The Flintstones

1994, PG, 91 min. Directed by Brian Levant. Starring John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Rosie O'Donnell, Kyle MacLachlan, Halle Berry, Elizabeth Taylor.

REVIEWED By Robert Faires, Fri., June 3, 1994

You'll believe a man can propel a car with his feet. And that may be about all you believe. This big budget, big screen, live action comedy based on the Sixties TV cartoon -- itself inspired on the Fifties TV live action show The Honeymooners (which gives this odd flick a doubly odd spin) -- fills out the preposterous prehistoric suburbia of the series to three dimensions with a kinda kooky credibility, from the mastodon whose trunk is a shower head to Dino yip-yipping to the car tipping over at the drive-in to Fred powering the family flivver with his big bare feet. But its story goes down about as easily as a platter of granite alfredo. The creative folks -- producer Bruce Cohen, director Levant, and, by some reports, about thirty screenwriters -- lean too heavily on a plot of corporate intrigue -- mean MacLachlan makes Goodman's Fred the fall guy in an embezzlement scheme -- and sappy moments between Fred and Wilma (Perkins) and the Rubbles (Moranis, O'Donnell). They're admirable attempts to update the old cartoon's broad social satire and add some depth to these characters, but they're played too gravely (gravelly?) to work in this wild world, and they don't prompt the same silly satisfaction that the show did. Or that the film does when it stops pushing the narrative and coasts, reveling in life in Bedrock. It's Fred at the bowling alley, doing his twinkletoes approach to the throw line (with sound effect!), that gets a goofy grin going on your saber-tooth puss, not Halle Berry's Stone Age seduction. It's the gags, the slapstick, the cartoony bits that work. If there were just more of 'em. The cast is game, but only a few get it right: Richard Moll as a brutish lodge brother, Dann Florek as Mr. Slate, La Liz as Fred's tart-tongued mother-in-law. They play it loud and loose and score. Goodman is as good as you expect, partly because he pulls from the ur-Fred, Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden, to give Flintstone some heft. Moranis' Barney is neither Art Carney nor Mel Blanc, just a schmo of his own and not much fun. Perkins, O'Donnell, MacLachlan, and Berry are just too restrained to reach that curious edge of caricature where a character is ridiculous and real. When you're with these Flintstones, expect smiles but not, as they say, “a gay old time.”

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The Flintstones, Brian Levant, John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Rosie O'Donnell, Kyle MacLachlan, Halle Berry, Elizabeth Taylor

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