I reckon that turning a much loved cartoon into a live action movie must be one of the hardest jobs going. Take "The Flintstones" turning a 30 minute TV show into something which lasts 90 minutes means trying to either cram in a lot of stories or stretch one out and that doesn't work. Then when you do come up with a storyline the chances are that whilst it will be sufficient for young audiences, adults who have chosen to watch out a sense of nostalgia will be disappointed by how lame and drawn out it feels. As such whilst "The Flintstones" looks great, is for the most brilliantly cast and good fun for young children adults who watch it will end up disappointed by the weak storyline.
After Fred (John Goodman - The Hudsucker Proxy) loans his best friend Barney (Rick Moranis - Honey I Blew Up the Kid) the money so that he and Betty (Rosie O'Donnell) can adopt Bam Bam, Barney vows that somehow he will repay him for his kindness. So when Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan), an executive at Slate and Company, mining rock puts out an open invitation for employees to take a test for an executive position Barney switches his correct answers for Fred's wrong answers and gets Fred the promotion. But not only does power and money go to Fred and Wilma's heads but he is being duped by Vandercave and the sexy Miss Stone (Halle Berry) who not only trick him into firing the entire workforce but also make him the patsy as they embezzle money.
"The Flintstones" has a lot of positives but one major negative, well a negative for adults and that is the storyline. Basically we have a storyline of Fred being duped when he becomes an executive to not only embezzle money but sack all of his friends. It is weak and struggles to fill up the running time and even subplots such as Barney and Bettie adopting Bam Bam only offer small distractions.
But the thing is that whilst from and adults point of view this storyline is weak it is more than enough to deliver humour for younger audiences who just want to watch funny antics rather than follow a story. And in many ways being weak aids this because it means there are several set piece gags thrown in to pad things out, visual jokes about the waste disposal, the cars, and the bowling alley. Basically all those elements that made up a 30 minute TV show are recreated on the big screen whether or not they are part of the story or not. What I mean is that not only do we get the recreation of the beginning and end of one of the cartoons we then get a pointless scene of Fred bowling, adds nothing to the story other than allowing us to smile at twinkle toes Fred getting a strike. It almost feels like the writers and it is reported that over the years there were 35 writers involved in the script, have taken all the recognizable elements of the cartoon and made sure they appeared and then worked the weak storyline around them.
Even if you find the actual storyline to be dull there is no denying that for a live action version they have done a brilliant job of recreating it. Seeing Fred and Barney in a car, the whole of Bedrock, the quarry, the various prehistoric gadgets like animal shaver it is great. In fact if you end up switching off from what is going on in the story there is plenty to entertain visually and seeing this is aimed at young people that is how it should be.
But the crowning glory of "The Flintstones" is the good casting especially that of the trio of John Goodman, Rick Moranis and Elizabeth Perkins who are superb as Fred, Barney and Wilma. They all get the comic elements of their characters down pat and the banter between Fred and Barney whilst very scripted is still entertaining especially because they both get the voice tone perfectly. Of course there is Betty Rubble as well and whilst Rosie O'Donnell wouldn't actually be my first choice she is good, she delivers a touch of sarcasm to the character which works.
Not all the casting works and unfortunately the pairing of Kyle MacLachlan and Halle Berry as the nefarious duo of Cliff Vandercave and Miss Stone just don't quite do it for me. And whilst the casting of Elizabeth Taylor as Fred's mother-in-law is amusing it feels like more padding.
What this all boils down to is that from an adults point of view, who grew up watching "The Flintstones" the live action movie doesn't quite work. Visually it is good and the bringing to life of Bedrock and are favourite characters as well as prehistoric gadgets is also good but the storyline is weak, too weak for a 90 minute movie. But then "The Flintstones" is more of a movie for children than adults who want to remember their childhoods and as such this weakness isn't an issue as there is enough visual humour to make young children laugh.