Encino Man, George of the Jungle, even The Quiet American. Brendan Fraser has often been the proverbial fish out of water in his starring roles. In fact, if you finish the phrase “Brendan Fraser’s character…” with “faces quite an unusual quandary,” you would practically capture his entire film career. Monkeybone, Bedazzled, Looney Tunes, The Mummy, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Inkheart. Apparently the guy shares an agent (or automated script reader) with Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd. But hey, Fraser knows what he likes. Things come to life, and he has to deal with it. And for the most part, his movies are popcorn fun.
1999’s Blast from the Past is no different. In it, Fraser’s character faces quite an unusual quandary. He’s a guy who emerges into present-day Los Angeles after living in a fallout shelter with his parents the last 35 years. Fish out of water, hilarity ensues. What the concept does, however, is provide a rather unusual setting for a sweet, funny, and altogether original romantic comedy. Blast from the Past is not high art, of course. It’s not as serious as Sleepless in Seattle, as clever as When Harry Met Sally, or really comparable to any of the considered classics in the genre. It is its own thing. But it works.
Here, Fraser’s trademark earnestness permeates through the production. The chemistry he and Alicia Silverstone have is palpable, but it is earned and developed through the course of the movie. They go through the usual missteps and stumbles on the way to a happy ending, but it flows as a consequence of the plot and the character. It’s not an obnoxious process (as with Serendipity’s constant rambling about destiny), there’s a contrast without caricatures (Forces of Nature), and – even with the premise – there are no contrived actions or reactions (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). Blast from the Past is an adorable and charming romantic comedy, and a nice way to spend an evening. Movie Stamp of Approval.