Is THE FLINTSTONES a ‘good’ film? No. Not by any stretch.
YABBA-DABBA-DON’T / YABBA-DABBA-POO said the critics etc.
And yet? It IS watchable, and indeed, it is essential viewing. I like it! Here’s why..
If you have an interest in the history of the movies? This is a great indication of where things were ‘at’ in the 1990s. Use a beloved old brand, even a TV show and repackage with new actors / tie-in theme tune cover / merchandise drive. Plot /script / actual need to tell the story, irrelevant? And yet for all that it kinda works, same way as Mission: Impossible and some Batman movies. You are watching it to relive the merchandise campaign and the experience.
It’s yet another example of ‘this would not get made today’. I hate it when people say that, btw. Yes, you get twitter hate if you offend anyone and sure, studios might panic and pull funding on your film idea if so. But unless you actually break the law, we are yet to have an actual secret police at the door. All the more reason to make stuff that’s a bit edgy, provided it’s not nasty? And so it is, with Fred Flintstone (John Goodman). He hates his mother in law (Pearl Slaghoople; played by Elizabeth Taylor). His IQ is not the highest and that is the entire catalyst for what passes as a plot. Countless un PC jokes and character traits. Which is funny in itself, because even in 1994, people watched what they said, despite being pre ‘woke’ era. So this is a strange beast of a film.
Some mildly revelatory and equally, baffling casting decisions. Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble. Really? No doubt that made sense at the time. Halle Berry plays a character called Sharon Stone. Geddit? Coz back then, the femme fatale du jour was Sharon Stone. As in Flint-stone. Geddit?! So naturally, you cast a (then relatively new and untested) Halle, rather than in fact paying for..well…Sharon Stone? Kyle Maclachlan does work well as the corporate sleaze baddie. Elizabeth Perkins is like a living work of art as Wilma: beautiful!
Visually stunning! Honestly. It’s a film one can sit back and just enjoy looking at. Very upbeat score to match, from David Newman: it’s like listening to the bright comedic spirit of the 1990s and injects immediate lightness of touch. There is a genuine ingenuity to the designs on display: capturing the spirit of the cartoon whilst feeling somehow real and credible yet heightened and fantastical.
So yes: corporate, fluffy, insubstantial. Yet it does have heart and warmth to it and a few genuine laughs and does at least try to pay tribute to its source material. Vintage Amblin/Universal and pure 90s nostalgia via 60s / stone age throwback! It even won a straight to video sequel: VIVA ROCK VEGAS (which is also watchable and deserves its own throwback another day).