THE FLINTSTONES

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

A page right out of (semi-recent) history, this: a re-release of the live action Flintstones movie, starring John Goodman and Rick Moranis as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Reputation has not been kind to Brian Levant’s family film – very much a product of its time and sensibilities – but there’s no denying its dedication to the cause. 

The town of Bedrock is slavishly recreated in all its super-sized, overblown glory, depicting everything from snazzy Stone Age outfits to the vehicles and resident Jim Henson dinosaurs. Just about everyone is perfectly cast, 90s era Goodman being the living embodiment of Fred Flintstone. And, in this day and age when the great man remains retired, any Rick Moranis performance is to be appreciated and savoured. That’s not to undersell the work of Elizabeth Perkins and Rosie O’ Donnell as Wilma and Betty – both underused but pitch-perfect as the long-suffering duo (that giggle, though).

Where it falters is in the story, which gives in to an unfortunate urge to tear apart the Flintstone/Rubble friendship, having the two families set against one another for much of the story. Written like a sitcom, by a team of sitcom writers – director Levant being on the Happy Days team – and based on a cartoon sitcom, too much of it feels like dragged-out TV; Kyle MacLachlan’s slimy villain and Halle Berry’s sultry secretary are superfluous and thrown in simply to give the plot its antagonists. To be fair to them though, sitcoms rarely translate well to the big screen, much less ones inspired by cartoons (sorry Scooby Doo, but you are not a good movie).

Still, The Flintstones is vastly underrated in how funny it is – there are gags hidden in nearly every frame – and it remains great to look at, especially in an era where the whole thing would have been computer animated and green screened, like a primary colour prehistoric Sin City. And, of course, there’s the soundtrack by the B(C)52’s, which makes it feel all that more charming. The film comes accompanied by a number of documentaries, featurettes and commentaries, all of which make it clear just how much fun the film was to make. Against the odds, that translates to the screen, even in the face of the by-the-numbers story and predictably manufactured breakup of the Fred and Barney bromance. 

The Flintstones isn’t a film crying out to be revisited, but if you (yabba dabba) do, you’re sure to have yourself a gay old time nevertheless. 

THE FLINTSTONES (1994) / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: BRIAN LEVANT / SCREENPLAY: TOM S. PARKER, STEVEN E. DE SOUZA, JIM JENNEWEIN / STARRING: JOHN GOODMAN, RICK MORANIS, ELIZABETH PERKINS, ROSIE O’DONNELL, HALLE BERRY, KYLE MACLACHLAN, ELIZABETH TAYLOR / RELEASE DATE: 29TH FEBRUARY




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