When I asked the rest of the LTBM crew if they had seen this, only Tres said he had. That didn’t necessarily shock me, but I thought it was a bit more widely known than that. So maybe you’ve never heard of this either! Blast From the Past is a 1999 release staring Brendan Fraser and Alicia Silverstone, playing Adam Weber and Eve, respectively. Directed by Hugh Wilson (Police Academy), this movie explores what would happen if a young man raised with 1950’s/60’s American-era values, morals and mannerisms was placed suddenly in modern-day Los Angeles. It’s an interesting concept, and one I suspect is pondered more and more as we grow older and see society changing around us. I am only 31 years old and I already catch myself thinking back sometimes to how things were when I was 10 or 12. Not from a convenience standpoint, but more from a morals and values standpoint. Sometimes I’m shocked at how far we’ve declined in our societal morality in the last 20 years, and I hate to imagine how it will be in my golden years if we remain on the current slide.
This is not to say that the 1950’s era American morals and values were perfect. Each era and generation has their faults, for sure. But watching this generation gap play out in Blast From the Past was quite interesting. It provided for some quirky, chuckle-worthy parts, but also gives slight insights into some large differences between the two. Case in point; the title of this review, “thanks for always being gay”. At one point in the movie Eve reveals to Adam that her friend Troy (Dave Foley) is gay. Knowing the general morality that Adam was raised with by his parents, the audience expects a certain reaction. Perhaps one of shock or judgment. Instead, Adam smiles and says, “Well, good for you!”. It’s left at that until a pivotal point in the movie. Adam is fleeing and hollers out to Troy, “thanks for always being happy”. Troy is perplexed at this and Eve quietly says to him, “gay”. For Adam, the word ‘gay’ meant happy, not homosexual. This is one example of the evolution, or hijacking, of language and symbols of society by groups of people. Another is the rainbow. It now represents support for the homosexual lifestyle, rather than God’s covenant he made with Noah and all mankind (Gen. 9:11-13).
Brendan Fraser carries this movie with the help of Silverstone and his parents, played by Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek. Walken seems comfortably at home in the father role and it’s pretty entertaining watching him explain certain things to his son, Adam, at various ages. I have mixed feelings on Brendan Fraser. Not in this film necessarily, but as an actor in general. I think he has a lot of potential talent, it’s just that we rarely see it. So often he is subjecting himself to corny, slapstick-style roles rather than roles with greater impact or depth as I think he’s proven he’s capable of (see Gods and Monsters and School Ties). With that said, I can’t really imagine someone else playing the role of Adam Weber in this movie. He has a happy-go-lucky persona that is perfect for this character. Silverstone is about what you’d expect, a somewhat grown-up version of her Clueless character.
The movie opens in 1964 with the Weber’s (Adam’s parents) hosting a dinner party. A news announcement comes across the television of heightened tensions with Russia and fear of a nuclear attack. Mr. Weber directs everyone to go home and be with their families. What he really wants is to get he and his wife down into his fallout shelter he has been working on. This thing is the crème de-la crème of fallout shelters. It is a full-scale model of their current home, stocked with years worth of water and food, an air filtration system and sun-lamps to grow fresh produce and vegetables. If you’re into the ‘preppers’ movement, you’ll geek out at this thing. On their way down into the shelter a plane lands in their backyard, which leads Mr. Weber to believe that the U.S. had just been bombed by Russia! He panics and sets the locks… for 35 years! The following scenes show the Weber’s adjusting to life in the shelter as they raise their new son, Adam.
When it comes time to check out the surface, Mr. Weber is shocked at what he sees. Adult bookstores left and right, people throwing up in the streets, sexual favors offered in exchange for lawn furniture! He believes that society has collapsed and humans have mutated to adjust to the nuclear radiation. Of course, you might think that to if you stumbled upon Los Angeles in the middle of the night! This shock leads to a heart attack and results in Mrs. Weber sending Adam to the surface for supplies.
The majority of the generation gap comedy and distinctions come in Adam’s interactions with everyday folk. Many are quite funny, some are rather convicting of where we are today. In one of his first dealings with people, Adam attempts to sell his collection of baseball cards in order to buy food to take back to his parents. It is here he meets Eve, who saves him from getting taken to the cleaners by a dishonest card salesman. Upset with Eve for ruining his deal, the card salesman curses and takes Lord’s name in vain. Adam strongly rebukes him, even doubling down when met with resistance to his request, saying to the man, “Yes, I have a BIG problem with that.” You suspect Adam is willing to fight over such a thing. Isn’t that odd to see today, willing to stand up for the big guy in the sky! I really appreciated this stance. Not only do we see the Biblically based values giving Adam strength to speak up, but it is one of the first clear contrasts between the values of today and those of the past. You won’t find many people taking such a stance when people take the Lord’s name in vain today. Many Christians would just as soon avoid a conflict. But why? Why should we put our light under a basket? We are the salt of the earth! Light shines into darkness, salt enhances flavor and preserves to that which is spoiling. Let’s be light and salt (Mt. 5:13-16) and not be ashamed of our Lord or afraid to stand up for His name.
Another theme prevalent in the movie is the utmost respect and appreciation that Adam has for his parents. He practices what they taught him; good manners, respect for women, putting others first, etc. Not only that, he places his parents on a pedastal and doesn’t hesitate to pass on worthy advice and knowledge he has obtained from them. On almost every occasion where Adam references his father, he is sure to mention, with a big smile on his face, that he’s a scientist. He is proud of his parents, he is obedient to them, and because of that they are proud of him and fully trust and respect him in return. Toward the end of the film Adam is setting things up to bring his parents to the surface for good, but he needs them to stay down there just a bit longer. “Why”, they ask. “I’m going to ask you to trust me, without knowing why”, Adam replies. Imagine the answer your parents would give if you said something like that to them. Okay, now stop laughing. Adam’s parents responded with, “well then, of course.” Adam was obedient and respectful of his parents (Col. 3:20, Eph. 6:2). He was a blessing to them, not a burden, and for that their full trust was extended to him. Let us remember to always hold our parents in his esteem and be a blessing to them.
My Rating: 3/5
While there is plenty in the way of life-lessons to feast on in this film, it is overall pretty average. It’s certainly worth a rental if you haven’t seen it. It isn’t making any groundbreaking statements on society as most of the generational distinctions are pretty superficial and aren’t explored too deeply. It’s goofy and corny, but it’s supposed to be. The soundtrack is very reflective of the time-spans, from the opening credits to the end. The period elements between the 60’s and 90’s such as the clothing, buildings, etc. contrast fairly well and I didn’t notice many, if any blatant failures in this regard. There is some bad language so I wouldn’t call it a family friendly comedy. Overall this is a fairly entertaining romantic comedy and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Adam: “What do you mean you can get me laid?”
Adam: “Eve, can I skate around your block?”
Troy: “So, Sophia, when you fly to Paris do you check these or are they carry on?”
Adam: “Eve, I’m sorry, but isn’t he just nice hair and a butt?”
Eve: “Now hold on, hold on just a minute! In the first place I do not fall in love with weirdos who I’ve only known for four or five days!” Troy: “Yes you do.” Eve: “And I don’t fall in love with grown men who collect baseball cards!” Troy: “Yes you do.” Eve: “Or pee in their pants when they see the ocean!” Troy: “Yes you do.” Eve: “Or have perfect table manners!” Troy: “You know, I asked him about that. He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn’t know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior.”