Flintstones! It’s the live action Flintstones! And apparently popular enough to warrant a prequel to their 1994 debut, too. Not enough to ensure the return of John Goodman or Rick Moranis though. Director Brian Levant does return, going even further back in history to prequel territory, to tell the tale of how Fred and Barney came to meet their lovely lady wives.
Going younger and cheaper gets us Mark Addy (yes, Robert Baratheon) as Fred and Stephen ‘the craziest’ Baldwin as Barney. Elizabeth Perkins and Rosie O’ Donnell are also out the proverbial window, replaced by Third Rock From the Sun’s Kristen Johnston and Jane Krakowski as Wilma and Betty. The film’s cast is essentially just an extended ‘poor man’s version of…’ joke, complete with Thomas Gibson playing the villain, a knock-off of Kyle MacLachlan’s Cliff Vandercave, so obvious that one wonders whether they were at some point actually meant to be the same character. Elizabeth Taylor is back though, playing that one note she did in the first Flintstones over and over again.
The plot, then, which sees Fred and Barney head on a trip to the titular Rock Vegas, where Fred hopes to court his Wilma(aaaa). Complicating matters is playboy Chip Rockerfeller (Gibson), who also has designs on the girl with the pearl necklace. This one also sees the introduction of alien Gazoo (Alan Cumming), both a help and hindrance to Fred’s cause, and either the funniest or most irritating thing in the movie, depending on one’s tolerance for such things.
Like the previous Flintstones movie, Viva Rock Vegas isn’t particularly well remembered – this one even less so due to its lack of John Goodman and substitution of the mighty Rick Moranis, with a Baldwin brother that isn’t even Alec (who, to be fair, would make a terrible Barney). And, like The Flintstones, there’s a narrative dead weight in that – just as we knew Fred and Barney would remain steadfast friends by the end – we’re all fully aware that Fred and Wilma are ‘Meant to Be’.
Still, the main cast give it their all, particularly Addy and Johnston as the unlikely Fred and Wilma. Like the previous film, it looks the part, visually inventive and packed with plenty of background humour. To those who enjoyed The Flintstones, it’s more of the same – and ditto for those who hated it. Yabba dabba sure, why not.
THE FLINTSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS (2000) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: BRIAN LEVANT / SCREENPLAY: DEBORAH KAPLAN, HARRY ELFONT, JIM CASH, JACK EPPS JR. / STARRING: MARK ADDY, STEPHEN BALDWIN, KRISTEN JOHNSTON, JANE KRAKOWSKI, THOMAS GIBSON, ALAN CUMMING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW