Blast from the Past (film)

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Blast from the Past
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Hugh Wilson
Produced byHugh Wilson
Amanda Stern
Renny Harlin
Screenplay byHugh Wilson
Bill Kelly
Story byHugh Wilson
Music by Steve Dorff
Cinematography José Luis Alcaine
Edited by Don Brochu
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • February 12, 1999 (1999-02-12)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million
Box office$40.3 million

Blast from the Past is a 1999 American romantic comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson and starring Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken, Sissy Spacek, and Dave Foley.


The film focuses on a naive 35-year old man, Adam Webber, who spent his entire life living in a fallout shelter with his parents watching reruns of I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners and listening to Perry Como and Dean Martin. His father is relatively content to stay, while his mother copes by trying to cobble together atomic era cocktails. When Adam has to come out of the shelter to get more supplies, his old-fashioned attitudes and manners make him a hit with everyone he meets, and attracts the attentions of Eve Rustikoff.

The film received mixed reviews from critics and was a box office disappointment.


Eccentric American scientist Dr. Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) believes nuclear war with the Soviet Union is imminent, and builds a secret fallout shelter beneath his backyard in 1962. Alarmed by the Cuban Missile Crisis, Calvin takes his pregnant wife Helen (Sissy Spacek) into the shelter. Due to a freak mechanical failure causing the pilot of a passing F-86 Sabre fighter jet to lose control and eject, the abandoned plane crashes into the house; Calvin assumes the worst and activates the shelter’s time-locks for 35 years. With the house completely destroyed by the crash, the Webbers' neighbors and authorities assume they were killed and their property is left abandoned.

Helen gives birth to Adam, who is immersed in culture up to 1962, including TV reruns of I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners and listening to pop standards by Perry Como and Dean Martin. A diner is built above the shelter which opens in 1965, where Melcher (Joey Slotnick) works for Mom (Dale Raoul) as a soda jerk. The diner becomes a pizzeria, then a punk club named Purgatory as the suburban neighborhood deteriorates throughout the decades into an inner city ghetto. Mom eventually gives the club to Melcher; the establishment closes and by 1995, he is an alcoholic living in its condemned remains.

When the shelter unlocks in 1997, Calvin mistakes the now-blighted neighborhood where his home once was for a post-apocalyptic wasteland of irradiated mutants and decides the family must stay underground. With supplies running out and Calvin falling ill, Adam (Brendan Fraser) leaves the shelter for the first time. He meets Melcher, who encountered Calvin the previous night, bursting through the floor in his radiation suit. Melcher now worships Calvin and the elevator. Marveling at the outside world, Adam purchases supplies, but cannot remember his way back to the pub.

Trying to sell his father's classic baseball cards at a hobby shop, Adam meets Eve Rustikoff (Alicia Silverstone). She stops the store owner (Bill Gratton) from cheating Adam and is fired. Eve drives Adam to a Holiday Inn in exchange for a rare card, but returns the next morning out of guilt. Adam asks her to help purchase supplies. Unaware of the value of money, Adam agrees to her request for $1,000 a week. He also asks Eve to help him find a wife from Pasadena, California, per his mother's advice, who is "not a mutant". Adam meets Eve's gay housemate and best friend Troy (Dave Foley), who provides him with advice and a fashion makeover.

Eve and Troy take Adam to a 1940s swing-style nightclub to find him a wife. Adam attracts the attention of several women, including Eve's nemesis Sophie (Carmen Moré). Jealous, Eve reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Cliff (Nathan Fillion), who goads Adam into an altercation, relenting when Adam demonstrates his boxing skills, having trained every day with his father. Eve leaves. Troy returns home and explains Adam went home with Sophie. Adam returns, explaining that he politely rejected Sophie's advances, as he could only think about Eve. He and Eve kiss, but when Adam admits the truth about his past and his desire to take her to be his wife "underground", she asks him to leave.

Finding the pub, where Melcher preaches to a full congregation, Adam returns to Eve's house, where she is waiting with Dr. Nina Aron (Jenifer Lewis) and her assistant to have him committed. Initially cooperating, Adam escapes asking Eve and Troy to collect his things and pay his hotel bill. In his hotel room, Troy and Eve find toiletries and clothing from the 1960s and absurdly valuable stock certificates in companies like IBM (which Calvin had written off as "worthless"), and deduce that Adam is not crazy and was telling the truth the whole time.

As Melcher and his cult load supplies into the shelter, Calvin prepares to seal his family inside again. Eve spots Adam outside the pub; they embrace, and Adam takes her to meet his parents. Impressed with Eve, Calvin and Helen agree to set the shelter's locks for two months while Adam and Eve make arrangements.

During this time, Adam and Eve sell the stocks to build his parents a new home in the country, identical to their house that was destroyed, and purchase and restore a red 1960 Cadillac convertible. They help Melcher rebuild the pub into a '50s-themed nightclub after convincing him that Adam is not God.

Adam reveals there was never an atomic war, the "bomb" was not a bomb and instead was a plane that had crashed into their house, and the Soviet Union collapsed. Unconvinced, Calvin plans to build a new fallout shelter as Eve watches while playing with her engagement ring.



Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall score of 58% of the comments positive based on 81 reviews, with the consensus: "Cute idea, but not consistently funny". [1] On Metacritic has a score of 48%. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars saying "the movie is funny and entertaining in all the usual ways, yes, but I was grateful that it tried for more: that it was actually about something, that it had an original premise, that it used satire and irony and had sly undercurrents." [2]

Box office

Blast from the Past opened in North American theaters on February 12, 1999 and took in $7,771,066 earning it 5th place at the box office for the weekend. It ultimately made a profit, grossing $40.3 million worldwide against its $35 million budget despite only grossing $26.5 million within the United States.


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  1. Blast from the Past at Rotten Tomatoes
  2. "Blast From The Past". February 12, 1999. Retrieved 2012-07-05.