The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Directed by Brian Levant
Review by Matt Heffernan
The 1994 live-action film based on the cartoon series "The Flintstones" was a lowpoint of the last decade. A good cast and a massive budget was wasted on a bad idea executed poorly. With probably no small amount of inspiration by Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, a prequel was made.
The new film takes us back to the time when Fred Flintstone (Mark Addy) and Barney Rubble (Stephen Baldwin) were young bachelors, learning how to operate "bronto-cranes" for a career at the quarry. They meet future wives Wilma (Kristen Johnston) and Betty (Jane Krakowski) at the Bronto King drive-in restaurant, where they worked as rollerskating waitresses.
Wilma invites the rest of the gang to her parents' house: Slaghoople Manor. Until then, she hadn't revealed that her family was wealthy, so Fred decides to postpone proposing to her until he can afford a more expensive ring. Wilma's old boyfriend, Chip Rockefeller (Thomas Gibson), invites them to the opening of his new casino in Rock Vegas. Fred plans to clean up gambling, making enough to buy Wilma the ring he thinks she expects. Of course, Chip has an ulterior motive for the trip.
Ooh, the tension is palpable. Amazingly, The Flintsones in Viva Rock Vegas takes this paper-thin plot and stretches it to about 85 minutes. Filling out the running length is the only reason to watch the film: Alan Cumming in the dual role of The Great Gazoo and Mick Jagged, lead singer of the Stones. In case you don't remember, Gazoo was a space alien, visible to only Fred and Barney, who was added late in the series as a desperate attempt to maintain ratings. He serves a similar purpose here, punching up scenes full of lame jokes and funereal pacing.
The rest of the cast, unfortunately, was not as successful. Addy, who was so lovable in The Full Monty, limits his performance to merely doing the Fred Flinstone voice. Baldwin's role was executed in pretty much the same way, except he didn't have a British accent to hide. Johnston was completely miscast, and the character of Wilma had to be contorted to fit her, but the two couldn't meet. Only Krakowski makes it out of the principal cast alive, providing a real sweetness to the film.
I must say that this was an improvement, however marginal, to the original film. They really couldn't do any worse. Hopefully, this will be the last attempt at bringing these characters to the screen. But, if this one manages to make money, you can bet on seeing even more (and likely much worse) excuses for family entertainment.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan