Isn't it a little too early in Brendan Fraser's career for him to be recycling movie ideas?

Nevertheless, the man-out-of-time storyline for his new comedy, "Blast from the Past," could have come straight from "Encino Man" — except that its reference point seems to be "Pleasantville" instead of "The Flintstones."

Still, you have to give the filmmakers some credit. "First Wives Club" director Hugh Wilson tones down the vulgar sex jokes and other crudities that marred "Encino Man" — though some are still present. And he actually manages to unearth a few more laughs.

But Wilson's best decision was in casting the all-important wisecracking sidekick — instead of "Encino Man's" Pauly Shore, it's Dave Foley (of TV's "NewsRadio," and the voice of Flik in the animated hit "A Bug's Life"). And Foley steals the show with an all-too-brief appearance.

This time, Fraser's character only has to catch up with three decades' worth of "progress," instead of a few thousand years' worth. He plays Adam Webber, a youthful-looking 35-year-old who's never seen the light of day.

Believing Russians dropped "the big one" in 1962, Adam's parents (Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek) have barricaded their family inside a huge, well-stocked bomb shelter for the past 35 years — time enough for radiation to dissipate.

And that's when their extensive supply of provisions runs out. With his father in ailing health, Adam heads to the surface to restock. However, he quickly becomes lost and is fortunate enough to bump into Eve Rustikov (Alicia Silverstone), a cynical twentysomething who takes him under her wing.

The naive galoot persuades her to help him find food and other necessities for his parents — by selling his valuable collection of '50s and '60s baseball cards. And she aids him in his search for a wife (as he believes he must replenish the Earth's population).

Yes, what ensues is extremely predictable, and the beginning of the film is awfully slow. But it does get better, thanks to Foley, who's a scream as Eve's gay roommate. And both Walken and Spacek are likable in a goofy way.

Believe it or not, Silverstone isn't too annoying here, either. Even more strange is the fact that she and Fraser display some genuine chemistry together, largely because of Fraser's boyish appeal.

But too often the screenplay (by Wilson and newcomer Bill Kelly) settles for easy laughs when it could go for more clever gags. And poor pacing ensures that most of the chuckles come in the film's second half, which makes the first half a chore.

"Blast from the Past" is rated PG-13 for profanity, use of vulgar slang terms and some sex talk, and brief fisticuffs.