Friday, December 10, 2021

The Flintstones

Another movie that I had the chance to record thanks to the various free previews is the 1994 live-action version of The Flintstones. It's going to be on again tomorrow at 10:00 AM on Showtime Family and again a couple more times over the next week, so I recently watched it to do a post on here.

The movie starts off with an homage to the opening credits of the animated series from the 1960s; I assume that since most people remember the TV show from having seen the umpteen reruns of it (you can currently catch the reruns on MeTV if you're in the US), you'll know that Fred Flintstone (played here by John Goodman) is married to Wilma (Elizabeth Perkins) and lives in the town of Bedrock next door to his best friend Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis) and his wife Betty (Rosie O'Donnell). The two men work together at the quarry owned by Mr. Slate, and are also on a bowling team together.

A lot of the TV series was jokes riffing on pop-culture references of the day, as well as animated looks at prehistoric "substitutes" for modern-day living, such as the cars started by running, a sight gag that is obviously used in the movie. And there are a lot of other sight gags, in part thanks to the animatronic prehistoric animals that serve as the various appliances. But there's also a plot going on behind all of that.

Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan) is a vice-president at the Slate company, having an affair with his secretary, Sharon Stone (Halle Berry). He's also been embezzling money from the company, but realizes he's going to need a fall guy to be able to get away with it. So he comes up with the idea to hire a new vice president, giving the workers down in the quarry an aptitude test so that there's also the PR story of hiring an executive from the blue collar (well, nobody's really wearing a collar in prehistoric days) ranks. Fred is stupid, but goodhearted, having given Barney the money the Rubbles needed to adopt Bamm-Bamm. So Barney repays Fred by switching aptitude tests. Barney got the highest score, but since he switched envelopes, Fred gets the executive's job.

The fact that Fred is a lovable, overly trusting lunk doesn't help his cause. Cliff encourages him to spend like an executive, which makes Fred more of a snob. Cliff also makes Fred fire the employee who got the lowest score on the aptitude test, which just happens to be Barney thanks to that envelope switch. So for most of the rest of the movie there's also the conflict between the two friends over what Fred unwittingly did to Barney. The two wives, however, are still friends, which is key, because when the embezzlement comes to light, they try to put things right.

Whether or not you like The Flintstones will probably depend on how much you enjoy the sight gags, since the plot is nothing original. It's obvious that the people who made the movie really believed in it, and that certainly makes the movie easy to watch even if it never really rises to anything particularly get. Goodman looks physically like an excellent fit for the part, and Berry looks like she's having a lot of fun as the vamp in a role that shows no indication that she would go on to win an Oscar.

If you're looking for an hour and a half of undemanding entertainment on a rainy day, you could do a lot worse than to watch The Flintstones.

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