(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a poem featuring neologisms, or made-up words, many of which I tried inventing for whimsical effect.)
The heretoformer days of yore
Were full of quagdaries,
Of warnage, gorenage, carnivornage,
One or all of these,
And outsurvivors just assumed
They’d die from some disease.
They had no Twitterbook or texts
Or cell addictophones,
Composed of silicones,
And no one knew of superstuds
Or Indiana Jones.
But if, from previosity,
By tempochronic means,
One telebeamed to present day
With us and all our screens,
They’d probably scramaddle back
To centuries with teens!
MPAA rating: PG-13
At the height of Brendan Fraser’s golly-gee persona fostered by the likes of George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right, he put that image to good use in the thoroughly amusing Blast from the Past. When overly paranoid genius Dr. Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) builds a super-stocked bunker at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a freak accident makes him and his wife (Sissy Spacek) believe that nuclear war has broken out, and they wait through the fallout for, oh, about 35 years. Of course, life goes on above them, and when they venture out into the depraved new world, their 35-year-old homeschooled son Adam (Brendan Fraser) gets to see the world for the first time.
Granted, it’s a silly concept and treats themes like cabin fever and social change with a decidedly blithe mood, but if you can accept the overlooked-for-decades bunker idea, the comedy never becomes too absurd or unbelievable. Perhaps the best aspect of this fish-out-of-water generational satire is that it doesn’t portray the Webbers and their early ‘60s values as backwards or outdated (like Pleasantville, for example), not even their Christian faith and righteous indignation toward profanity. Instead, most of the humor comes from the contrast between their wholesome naiveté and the big, bad modern world of 1999, like when Calvin’s first encounter with a street walker makes him think the earth is overrun by mutants.
Fraser plays Adam with happy-go-lucky gusto, finding a much-desired girlfriend in Alicia Silverstone’s cynical Eve. The film’s respect toward nostalgia for the good-old days is plain in Eve’s gradual transition from thinking Adam’s crazy to admiring his sense of chivalry and innocence. As a whole, the film entertains by finding the humor in how things change over the years without mocking the past or present too harshly. I was also thunderstruck by the sudden appearance of a very young Nathan Fillion, three years before Firefly, making me wish for a less under-played showdown between Mal Reynolds and Rick O’Connell. While a sheltered boy locked in a room for years has dramatic potential (as in Room), Blast from the Past makes the situation consistently funny; it’s a refreshing and clever trifle of a comedy, one that made me miss the good-old days of Brendan Fraser’s heyday.
Best line: (Eve’s friend Troy, of Adam) “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. Oh, and you know what else he told me?”
(Troy) “He thinks I’m a gentleman and you’re a lady.”
(Eve) “Well, consider the source! I don’t even know what a lady is.”
(Troy) “I know, I mean I thought a “gentleman” was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.”
(Eve) “Where do you think he got all that information?”
(Troy) “From the oddest place: his parents. I mean, I don’t think I got that memo from mine.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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