Blast from the Past (film)

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Blast from the Past
Theatrical release poster.
Directed by Hugh Wilson
Produced by Hugh Wilson
Amanda Stern
Renny Harlin
Screenplay by Hugh Wilson
Bill Kelly
Story by Hugh Wilson
Starring Brendan Fraser
Alicia Silverstone
Christopher Walken
Sissy Spacek
Dave Foley
Music by Steve Dorff
Cinematography José Luis Alcaine
Edited by Don Brochu
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • February 12, 1999 (1999-02-12)
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $40,263,020

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


Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) is a Caltech nuclear physicist, living during the Cold War. His fear of nuclear holocaust leads him to build a self-sustaining fallout shelter beneath his suburban home. When the Cuban Missile Crisis begins, Calvin and his pregnant wife, Helen (Sissy Spacek), move into the shelter. A US Navy pilot loses control of his airplane and ejects; the plane crashes into the Webber home and destroys it. The Webbers, having seen the resulting fireball just as they lock themselves in their shelter, believe that the unthinkable has happened and that they are the sole survivors of a nuclear war. The locks on the shelter are timed to open in 35 years and cannot be overridden by anyone inside or outside the shelter. The following week, the Navy investigates the crash and concludes the Webbers perished in the explosion.

A few days after the locks have been engaged, Helen gives birth to a baby boy they name Adam. During the 35 years they are in the shelter, the world above drastically changes, while the Webbers' life remains frozen in 1962. Adam becomes highly educated, learning several languages, all school subjects, dance, boxing, and many other things, from his homeschooling by his parents. The family passes time watching black and white films and kinescopes of television programs via a projector rigged to look like a television. Adam is given his father's baseball card collection and stock certificates from various companies like IBM and AT&T.

In 1997, the timer releases the locks, and Calvin ascends to the surface in full protective gear, anticipating either a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a Soviet takeover. The suburb in which they once lived has turned into a ghetto of Los Angeles, and Calvin thinks while society has rebuilt from the nuclear winter, anarchy now reigns. He wants his wife and now grown son (Brendan Fraser) to stay in hiding while he collects supplies. When he suffers from chest pain, Adam is sent for supplies in his stead. While Calvin thinks the world is dangerous, Adam sees this as his big chance to see the outside world.

Adam meets Eve Rustikoff (Alicia Silverstone) when he tries to sell his father's classic baseball cards at a hobby shop. She stops the store owner from trying to buy the cards for much less than their collectible value and is immediately fired. Adam asks Eve to drive him to a Holiday Inn in exchange for a baseball card worth $4,000. The next morning Eve has an attack of conscience and returns the card to Adam. When she mentions that she must find a new job, Adam asks her to help him purchase supplies. Unaware of the value of money, Adam immediately agrees to her request for $1,000 a week pay. He also asks Eve to help him find a wife from Pasadena, California, who is "not a mutant"; he uses the term literally, but she mistakes it for the modern slang usage. Adam meets Eve's gay housemate and best friend, Troy (Dave Foley), who is amused by Adam's naiveté but offers advice and gives Adam a fashion makeover.

Eve and Troy take Adam to a 1940s style nightclub to find him a wife. They are astonished by his dancing skills, with which he immediately gains the attention of several desirable women, including Eve's flirtatious rival, Sophie (Carmen Moré). Eve becomes jealous and reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Cliff (Nathan Fillion), but leaves after Cliff goads Adam into an altercation. Troy later returns home alone, and explains that Adam went home with Sophie. Eve becomes very upset. Adam returns later, explaining that he politely rejected Sophie's advances because he'd rather be with Eve. They kiss, but Adam insists on telling her the truth about his past and states that he wants to take her "underground". She asks him to leave. When he returns the next day, Eve is waiting with a team of mental health professionals to have him committed. He sadly cooperates at first, but escapes as they leave the house. He asks that Eve collect his things for him and pay his hotel bill. Troy and Eve find stock certificates in his luggage worth many millions of dollars, and toiletries and clothing manufactured in the early 1960s. They realize that Adam was telling the truth, and Eve admits she just tried to have her ideal man committed. They track Adam back to the ghetto where Eve throws herself into his arms. He takes her to meet his parents.

Adam tells his parents that he and Eve can't stay. He asks them to set the lock timer for only two months this time, and then he will return for them. He and Eve use the money from selling the stocks to build his parents a new home in the country, identical to the home that was destroyed, with an interior that resembles the homey interior of the fallout shelter. Adam privately breaks the news to Calvin that he researched what had happened to their original house; a Navy accident caused its destruction; there was no nuclear war. Adam also says the Cold War is over; the Soviet Union collapsed without a shot being fired. Helen is overjoyed to be able to see the sky again, Adam and Eve become engaged to be married, and Calvin, certain that the "Commies" have faked the collapse of the Soviet Union, starts pacing out measurements for a new fallout shelter.



Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an overall score of 58% of the comments positive based on 78 reviews.[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[edit]

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.


  1. ^ Blast from the Past at Rotten Tomatoes
  2. ^ "Blast From The Past :: :: Reviews". Retrieved 2012-07-05. 

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