I always hated The Flintstones as a kid… on the surface it looked like a fun children’s cartoon, but at heart it was just a boring, middle-aged sitcom about an angry boor who lies to his wife a lot. Even if I had enjoyed the animated series, I would still have had a hard time accepting the idea that it needed to be adapted into a live-action movie with real actors carrying stupid, over-sized props, and being hauled around on wires to engineer the painfully stilted, pointless visual gags. Why not let a cartoon be a cartoon, and let a film be a film?
That said, I did watch The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000) when it was shown on ITV2 last Sunday, simply because it stars Kristen Johnston and Jane Krakowski, as ‘Wilma’ and ‘Betty’ respectively. For those who don’t know, this flop prequel tells the story of how ‘Fred Flintstone’ (Mark Addy) and ‘Barney Rubble’ (Stephen Baldwin!?) first came to meet and romance their future wives, while being “observed” by a creepy, supercilious space alien named the ‘Great Gazoo’ (Alan Cumming). The main antagonists of the piece are conniving casino owner ‘Chip Rockefeller’ (Thomas Gibson), who has his sights set on Wilma’s family fortune, and a piss-poor Mick Jagger knock-off (Cumming, again), who dazzles Betty with his Union Jack themed furs (omg, it’s all so anachronistic!). Meh.
It makes me a little sad to think that this is probably the biggest movie that the reliably hilarious Johnston and Krakowski will ever headline, because there isn’t a single laugh to be had here. I did chuckle a little at John Cho’s spiky cameo as a valet… but other than that, it was a woefully unfunny endurance event for me. The curse was lifted a little by all the close-ups of Johnston, who really does look properly gorgeous here… but she never gets to unleash the crazy comic energy that makes her so much fun to follow in other shows, so I can’t help feeling a little sorry for her. This simply isn’t the all-singin’, all-caperin’ showcase these two talented actresses deserve, dammit!