The Flintstones (1994)
The Flintstones is a 1994 live-action adaptation of the 1960 cartoon of the same name. The film stars John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Rosie O'Donnell, Kyle Maclachlan, Halle Berry and Elizabeth Taylor.
Big-hearted, dim-witted factory worker Fred Flintstone (John Goodman) lends money to his friend Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis) so that he can adopt a baby, who turns out to be a primitive feral boy raised by mastodons named Bamm-Bamm. As thanks, Barney swaps his IQ test for Fred's during an executive search program. After getting promoted, however, Fred becomes embroiled in the dastardly scheming of his boss Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan), who enlists his secretary, Sharon Stone (Halle Berry), to seduce Fred, angering Fred's wife, Wilma (Elizabeth Perkins).
Why It's a Yabba-Dabba-Dud
- The film just feels like a man's terribly executed special episode of the TV show it was adapted from, and feels a lot less like a movie. If you could even call this a "movie" at all.
- The film's general storyline is deemed way too mature for family audiences, as it is filled to the brim with adult themes such as embezzlement, mother-in-law problems, office politics and extra-marital affairs which younger audiences won't be able to understand (though to be fair, the early seasons of the original cartoon tend to be more adult-oriented than later incarnations of the original animated franchise).
- Rosie O'Donnell was miscast as Betty as she was plus-sized and not slender like Betty was in the cartoon. O'Donnell said she only got the part because her Betty laugh matched the laugh of Betty in the cartoon.
- Elizabeth Taylor is also seriously miscast as Wilma's mother Pearl Slaghoople, as she barely resembles her animated counterpart in any way.
- The animatronics and CGI used to portray the animals and dinosaurs aren't very good and give the feeling that they're being visually juxtaposed to the scenarios.
- Countless plot holes that are too many to name.
- Painfully unfunny slapstick humor.
- Certain characters are bizarre and not really necessary to be included in this film.
- Certain scenes don't really make sense and can get rather tiresome.
- Like in the cartoon, even though Fred's antics are almost always amusing, sometimes his antics can be rather annoying.
- Some gross-out humor.
- Before Bamm-Bamm was given a makeover to resemble his cartoon counterpart, his original feral boy form is highly inappropriate (for family audiences by the way), as what he wore originally was nothing but only a simple fig leaf covering his privates.
- John Goodman was a perfect casting choice to play Fred Flintstone. Likewise, Dan Florek makes an interesting cameo appearance as Mr. Slate and did a good job portraying him, and Kyle McLachlan also did a superb job playing Cliff Vandercave coming off as super-scary and super-hateful.
- Likewise, both Elizabeth Perkins and Rick Moranis are well cast as Wilma and Barney respectively.
- William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (the creators of the original show) were involved in making the film, which is one reason why the film did so well at the box office despite the negative feedback from critics and fans.
- Creative set and prop designs that resemble the things fans will see on the show.
- Decent soundtrack, especially since it has the opening theme song and closing theme song, as composed by the B-52's, who make a cameo in the film as the "BC-52's".
- Many prehistoric puns are very funny. For example, it turned Universal into Univershell.
- At least it's very faithful to the original cartoon, unlike most live-action adaptations of Hanna-Barbera cartoons or other cartoons.
- On the top of that, this movie version of both opening sequence and closing sequence of the TV show looks so good.
- We get a somewhat decent explanation on how Bamm-Bamm got his super-strength.
The film was released on May 27, 1994 with mixed to negative reviews and currently holds a 22% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a critic consensus that reads "The Flintstones wastes beloved source material and imaginative production design on a tepid script that plunks Bedrock's favorite family into a cynical story awash with lame puns." On Siskel & Ebert, film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film a marginal thumbs down and stated that certain topics in the film shouldn't have been added like office politics, relationships between other family members and extra-marital affairs.
Despite receiving mostly negative reviews from critics, the film reveived positive reviews from several critics including Joel Siegel of ABC's Good Morning America who described the film as "pre-historical, hysterical...great fun!", Caryn James of The New York Times and the late Richard Schickel of TIME Magazine also gave the film a positive review.
The film opened up at #1 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $29,688,730 at the U.S. box office. It would later make a total domestic gross of $130,531,208. The foreign box office gross was $211,100,000. Overall, the film made $341,631,208 worldwide against its $46 million budget making it a box office smash hit.
Awards and nominations
The Flintstones was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Actress for Supporting Actress for Elizabeth Taylor and Worst Remake or Sequel. The film only won two Golden Raspberry Awards for Rosie O'Donnell for Worst Actress (also for Exit to Eden and Car 54, Where Are You?) and Worst Screenplay.
- Jean Vander Pyl, the original voice actress of Wilma, has a small appearance in the conga dance scene.
- John Candy, James Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, George Wendt, and Chevy Chase were all considered for the role of Fred. Belushi, Murray, Aykroyd, and Chase were deemed too skinny, and putting any of them in a fat suit would look too inappropriate, while Candy, though interested, was in Mexico filming Wagons East! before he died.
- Danny DeVito was offered the role of Barney, but turned it down after stating that he'd sound rather gruff for the role. So DeVito suggested that his good friend Rick Moranis take the role.
- Because the cartoon version of Barney Rubble is supposed to be a short man, actors considered for the role are of height 5'6" or shorter.
- Dino the dinosaur is voiced by the late Mel Blanc in this film, using archival recordings from the original TV series. The same is true with the 2000 prequel.
- Elizabeth Daily, Bamm-Bamm's then-current voice actress, dubbed all the voices for the live-action Bamm-Bamm portrayed by twins Hlynur and Marino Sigurðsson.
- The original casting choices for Wilma included Geena Davis, Faith Ford, and Catherine O'Hara.
- The original casting choices for Betty included Janine Turner, Tracey Ullman, and Daphne Zuniga.
- The role of Fred's secretary Miss Stone was originally written for Sharon Stone, but due to scheduling conflicts with The Specialist, she dropped out. Sharon has since stated that she regretted not starring in the film.
- The film was originally going to be directed by Richard Donner after working on Lethal Weapon 3.
- This was the final theatrical role for Oscar-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor, who played Wilma's mother.
- Bryan Levant is a fan of the TV series.
- This is the only live-action adaptation of a Hanna-Barbera property to be produced before the Time Warner-Turner Entertainment merger in 1996; following the 1996 Time Warner-Turner merger subsequent live-action adaptations of Hanna-Barbera cartoons would be produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, starting with Scooby-Doo.
- John Landis was brought in for uncredited reshoots.