(1994)

Yabba-Dabba-Doo!

Modern Stone Age family the Flintstones hit the big screen in this live-action version of the classic cartoon. Fred helps Barney adopt a child. Barney sees an opportunity to repay him when Slate Mining tests its employees to find a new executive. But no good deed goes unpunished.

_**The animated show comes to life with John Goodman in the lead role**_
While critics love to bash this live-action cinematic version of "The Flintstones" and the rating here at IMDb is surprisingly low, the movie was a huge hit in 1994 and fittingly so because this is a great movie for what it is. Speaking of which, this explains why "The Flintstones" is such easy prey to incessant panning – it's a movie based on a cartoon. So freaking what? The question is, does it work for what it is and the answer is a resounding "yes"! Movies should be critiqued and graded according to what they are and aspire to achieve. For instance, "Godzilla" is a colossal-creature movie and should be reviewed on that level. Compared to the original "Apocalypse Now" it's dreck, but how does it stack-up to other gigantic-monster movies? It's the same thing with "The Flintstones."
Roger Ebert criticized the film on the grounds that "the story is confusing, not very funny, and kind of odd, given the target audience of younger children and their families. Do kids really care much about office politics, embezzlement, marital problems, difficulties with adoption, aptitude exams and mothers-in-law?" For one thing, the film IS funny if you're familiar with The Flintstones and, more so, if you're a fan, which I am. I've seen the movie four times now and, without exception, laughed from beginning to end. Now the laughs may be more giggling at silly humor than uproarious laughter, but laughing nonetheless.
As for the criticism that the story's confusing and misses the supposed target audience because of adult-oriented elements, this just shows that the "target audience" wasn't just kids. "The Flintstones" is for kids AND adults equally, which was true of the original cartoon as well, but more so with the movie, and I'm glad. The live-action version of "Dudley Do-Right" (1999) made the mistake of aiming solely for kids – real little kids -- and it seriously bombed and justifiably so because it's a complete dud. It's impossible to watch that movie as an adult and stay interested. "The Flintstones" doesn't make this mistake and that's why it was such a hit and remains thoroughly entertaining to this day.
The cast is great, even Rosie O'Donnell as Betty (who I didn't think would work), but John Goodman as Fred is so good it's like the cartoon come to life! Furthermore, the sets and F/X are top-of-the line and surprisingly hold up to this day. In addition, the story has warmth and offers realistic and worthy themes. Take, for instance, Fred and Barney's bond. They're best friends and their personalities balance each other out. You'll see this in real life. My best friend, for example, is similar in some ways to Barney while I more fit the Fred role.
The bottom line is that "The Flintstones" is entertaining from beginning to end for all the reasons noted above and it wisely doesn't overstay its welcome at 91 minutes.
The film was shot at Vasquez Rocks, Santa Clarita and Sun Valley, California, and Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.
GRADE: A

Hanna-Barbera Productions, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment by Brian Levant, Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein, Steven E. de Souza.
Stars: John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O'Donnell.

Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Keywords: manager jealousy bad mother-in-law adoption family's daily life stone age plan friendship best friend dinosaur cavemen

05/27/1994

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