1994’s The Flintstones is a live-action adaptation of the beloved 60s cartoon. It stars John Goodman and Rick Moranis as Fred and Barney. They’re surrounded by familiar names like Halle Berry, Kyle MacLachlan and Elizabeth Taylor in what would be her final acting role. This movie was part of a surge in live-action movies based on Saturday morning cartoons. The 90s brought forth similar movies as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dennis the Menace and Inspector Gadget.
I’m not going to pretend The Flintstones is a good movie. As with a lot of similar movies, it has problems adapting a 25 minute cartoon into a 90 minute movie and originality in the script is nowhere to be found.
Long time best friends and neighbors Fred and Barney have a falling out when Fred is suddenly promoted to an executive position at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company. A position he has Barney to thank for. Barney sneakily switched their tests as a favor to his friend. All because it was Fred who provided him with money to adopt a kid named Bam-Bam. But little do both men know this position was only created by Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan) to provide him with a fall-guy for his embezzling scheme.
One of the first assignments Fred is given is to fire Barney as he had the lowest score of everybody. This creates a rift between Fred and Barney which is only widened by Fred’s sudden financial influx and unemployed Barney’s depleting bank account.
It’s a by the numbers plot that we have seen in countless other movies. The Flintstones certainly scores 0 points for originality. But it does score high in several other categories and I did actually enjoy this movie.
The casting is spot-on and I can’t imagine anyone else embodying the role of Fred Flintstone other than John Goodman. He is aided by a stellar cast with good old Rick Moranis doing a good Barney Rubble impression. The only thing missing was Rubble’s classic giggle. Rosie O’Donnell, before adapting her current butch look, is a light hearted Betty. Elizabeth Perkins has the thankless role of playing the straight wife to Goodman’s jolly Fred. She’s outshone by her fellow cast members who get to have more fun with their roles.
But the true MVPs in The Flinstones are the set-designers and special effects teams responsible for bringing Bedrock to life. Every shot in The Flintstones is a beautiful homage to the cartoon. The Jim Henson shop has provided several creatures which often steal the show from the human cast. There are even two fully CGI-characters who still look pretty good almost 30 years later.
The 90s was a time in which CG was often used sparingly and/or in combination with animatronics. This the reason movies like this and Jurassic Park still look great to this day.
So while the Flintstones isn’t a great movie, it is a fun 90 minutes of sight gags, nostalgia and a treat to the eyes.