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The Flintstones in
Viva Rock Vegas

Rated [PG], 91 minutes
Starring Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Kristen Johnson and Jane Krakowski
Screenplay by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., based on characters created by Joseph Hanna and William Barbera
Directed by Brian Levant

IN SHORT: Stinks like a dinosaur fart.

Mark Addy, in his CrankyCritic® StarTalk, told Paul Fischer "The [producers] said that they were looking for someone who could bring humanity and heart to Fred. The comedy stuff, the look and voice, they weren't bothered about." It shows. The producers, already thinking sequel, also signed Mr. A for another movie. They should have thought as much about getting this one right. We're not blaming the actors for this ill conceived project. We blame the producers and the writers and the director. And that door being opened . . .

It's always been policy on these boards not to compare movies to their Source material. This usually means books, which don't have wide circulation (in comparison) or other movies that have been re-adapted. When the Source is something so ingrained into American teevee culture as The Flintstones which, like I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners (on which it was based), can be seen at least once every day anywhere in the country that's an almost impossible rule. We've decided to be nice and say that, if you're less than five or six years old and haven't gotten to know Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty as well as a member of your family, you'll probably squeal with delight from the first dinosaur fart on down the line. While the single digits squeal, those of us who have enjoyed significant hours with the Flintstones and the Rubbles will writhe in pain.

The story, which shows us the why and how of the pairing of rich kidlet Wilma Slaghoople and blue collar Fred Flintstone, Betty O'Shale and Barney Rubble introduces us to Wilma's parents (Joan Collins and Harvey Korman) and similarly monetarily endowed suitor Chip Rockefeller (Thomas Gibson). Wilma, bless her heart, would rather go bowling. The foursome take a fun filled trip to Rock Vegas (Ann "Marg-rock" Margret -- singing the title theme, of course) where love is tested by the attentions of music superstar Mick Jagged of the Stones (Alan Cumming).

From our brains screwed on backwards department, the producers of The Flintsones (who include Stephen Spielberg) do their best to hire a cast that can imitate the vocal characterizations of Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty as heard in the cartoon teevee series of the early 1960s. While the actors also look the roles, appearances and sounds are all skin deep. It doesn't help that the characters, all younger versions of those in the first film or the series, bear little resemblence to their older selves. Mark Addy's Fred veers back and forth between a dead on Nathan Lane imitation and a historically accurate Jackie Gleason. While there's a nod to ol' "twinkletoes" Flintstones in the flick, this Fred has not a trace of the bluster that is central to the character. Stephen Baldwin's Barney is written as a complete moron. Jane Krakowski's Betty goes from wild to prim. Both Rubbles are reduced to their trademark laughs. Kristen Johnson's Wilma has vestiges of the woman to come, but there's little in the story -- a loudmouth mom and a forgetful dad -- that explains why this rich kid wants to slum.

The producers spent their bucks on sets and effects and animatronics to recreate the joke of how to show modern technology (bridges, lawn mowers, remote controls and so forth) with prehistoric implements. Then, as if to say "We're Hollywood. We can change anything we want to" writers Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont and Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. flush everything down the toilet. They pull from the Flintsones Universe the most beloved ET to float above Fred's head, the Great Gazoo (here as an observer of the mating practices of humans), and hire the voice of Gazoo, Harvey Korman . . . to play a different character. Considering the advances in CGI and the appearance that all the budget dollars were spent on the set and not the script, Alan Cumming (also playing Kazoo) in a prosthetic head is wasted. Korman's bit, as Wilma's father, must've had him laughing and/or crying all the way to the bank.

If the attention that was paid to building sets, all lovingly detailed on the website, had been paid to the story (which isn't even fit for the low budget Hanna-Barbera shows) there may have been something nice to say about The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. Two good jokes and two chuckles in ninety minutes is a painful way to spend an afternoon. Unless you're four years old.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, he would have paid...


I'm not four years old.

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