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The Flintstones Review

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Fred Flintstone is not the brightest guy in the world but is pleased when a successful businessman wants to hire him for his company. Sadly unknown to Fred it turns out he is wanted merely as a foil for an embezzling scheme run by the boss.

★★★★★

One is forced to ponder, with some depression, the futility of film reviewing as an occupation in cases like this, as the enduring affection for Hanna-Barbera's prehistoric animated favourites, the hyperbolic overdrive, the burger franchise tie-ins and the avalanches of merchandising attending this release conspire to designate it a blockbuster, however unworthy.

No expense has been spared on the construction of a Bedrock where the design, deco, costumes and animal "appliances" are identical to the amusing inventions of the source cartoon. Indeed, the best things in the film are the animatronics and puppets devised by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, notably the Flintstones' rambunctious pet Dino and Fred's office Dictabird. But this is a Bedrock in which loudness is too often confused with humour.

From the Steven Spielrock Presents banner and the opening credits sequence that is an exact duplication of the series' credits, it's relentlessly, boomingly cute and obvious. The script, meanwhile, is pitifully bereft of wit, conveying the absence of inspiration in making a live-action jape from a 30-year-old cartoon comedy despite the crediting of three scriptwriters and the rumoured toiling of up to 35 gagsters at various stages during its development.

Fred Flintstone (Goodman) helps neighbours Barney and Betty Rubble (Moranis and O'Donnell) adopt the jungle boy Bam Bam, before Fred and Wilma (Perkins) turn vulgar and spend, spend, spend when the dim one is elevated to executive status at the stone quarry by baddie Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan) and used as the fall guy in an embezzling scheme with the help of sultry, pouting secretary Sharon Stone (Halle Berry).

Injected into this tame scenario are a few lame jokes, the embarrassing spectacle of Elizabeth Taylor as Fred's squawking mother-in-law and the BC-52s bludgeoning the theme song to death, while all the principals can do is impersonate their animated predecessors. When a pterodactyl doing what pigeons are famed for doing gets the biggest laugh, you know you're in trouble. Yabba Dabba Poo!

The style of the film is The Flintstones' only saving grace. With all a range of clever dino-inventions supplied by Jim Henson, each one is inventive and eye-catching. Sadly the plot leaves a lot to be desired with major flaws never far away. The in-jokes are amusing but their novelty soon begins to wear thin.

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