The Flintstones (film)
Theatrical poster for The Flintstones, designed by Drew Struzan
|Directed by||Brian Levant|
|Produced by||Bruce Cohen|
|Written by||Tom S. Parker
Steven E. de Souza
|Based on||The Flintstones created
by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera
|Music by||David Newman|
|Edited by||Kent Beyda|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||91 minutes|
The Flintstones is a 1994 American comedy film directed by Brian Levant and written by Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein and Steven E. de Souza. A live-action adaptation of the 1960-66 animated television series The Flintstones, the film stars John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone, and Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble, along with Kyle MacLachlan as an executive-vice president of Fred's company, Halle Berry as his seductive secretary and Elizabeth Taylor, in her final theatrical film, as Wilma's mother. The B-52's performed a different version of the theme song. The movie was shot in California at an estimated budget of $46,000,000. The film was released on May 27, 1994 and was a box-office success, though it received generally mixed to negative reviews from film critics. Observers criticized the storyline and tone, which they deemed too adult for family audiences, but praised its visual effects, costume design, art direction and John Goodman's performance as Fred Flintstone.
Slate and Co. Senior Executive Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan) and secretary Miss Sharon Stone (Halle Berry) look at the company workers in the gravel pits while discussing their plan to swindle the company of its vast fortune and flee, but agree that they need a stooge to take the fall for it.
Fred Flintstone (John Goodman) loans his best friend and neighbour Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis) money so that he and his wife Betty (Rosie O'Donnell) can adopt a child named Bamm-Bamm, who can only pronounce his own name. Although the child was initially difficult to control due to being raised by Mastadons, as well as being superstrong, he eventually warms up to his new family. Barney vows to repay his friend, but Fred receives an unwelcome visit from his mother-in-law, Pearl Slaghoople (Elizabeth Taylor), who dislikes Fred and berates him for "robbing the nest egg". Fred's wife, Wilma (Elizabeth Perkins), remains supportive of Fred's decision, however.
Cliff holds an aptitude test, where the worker with the highest mark will become the new Vice President of the company. Barney gets the highest score, but remembers his promise and switches his paper with Fred, whom he knows will fail miserably. Fred receives the promotion, but his first order is to fire Barney, since Barney now effectively has the lowest score. Fred reluctantly complies, but does his best to help Barney support his family, even inviting the Rubbles to live with them so that they can rent out their home. However, the perks of Fred's new job put a strain on his friendships, as Wilma catches him in a flirtatious moment with Miss Stone, and the Rubbles are put off by Fred and Wilma's increasingly snobbish behaviour. Cliff eventually tricks Fred into firing all the workers, despite advice from his office dictabird (Harvey Korman). Things come to a head at a restaurant where Barney, working as a waiter, sees the workers rioting on the news, and confronts Fred. In the ensuing argument, Barney finally admits that he switched tests with Fred, and the Rubbles move out, despite having nowhere to live. Disgusted with Fred's behaviour, Wilma leaves Fred for her mother's house, taking their daughter Pebbles with her.
Fred goes to the quarry and discovers his mistake and Cliff's plot, but also learns that Cliff has engineered the scheme to make it look as if Fred embezzled the money, and calls the police. A manhunt for Fred ensues, by the police and the angry workers. Wilma and Betty see this on the news, and break into Slate and Co. to get the dictabird, the only witness who can clear Fred, unaware that Cliff saw them from his office window. Fred tries to infiltrate a cave where the workers are seeking refuge, but they see through his disguise and try to lynch him. Barney shows up, now working as a snow cone vendor, and is almost hanged as well after he admits his part. Fred and Barney make up, but before they can be hanged, Wilma and Betty turn up with the dictabird, who tells the workers that Cliff was the one who fired them and convinces them to let Fred and Barney go.
However, Cliff breaks into Fred's house, vandalize it, kidnaps Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, ties up Pearl and Dino, and writes them a note saying "if YOU want to see YOUr kIds AGain, Bring the Dictabird to ThE QuaRRy at dawn. NO PoLICE", demanding the Dictabird in exchange for their safe return. Fred and Barney confront Cliff at the quarry, where Cliff has tied Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm to a huge machine. Though they hand him the Dictabird, Cliff sets the machine off to stall them. Barney rescues the children while Fred destroys the machine. The dictabird escapes from Cliff and lures him back to the quarry, where Miss Stone knocks him out, having had a change of heart after learning that Cliff planned to betray her. The police arrive with Wilma and Betty and Cliff attempts to flee, but is stopped by a falling substance which engulfs and traps him after turning solid.
With the dictabird's help, Fred is cleared of all charges, while Miss Stone is arrested as Cliff's accomplice, though Fred is confident she will be set free for helping them stop Cliff. Mr. Slate (Dann Florek), impressed with the substance that Fred inadvertently created by destroying the machine, dubs the substance "concrete" and makes plans to produce it with Fred as President of its division, thus ending the Stone Age, but Fred, having experienced wealth, declines, instead requesting his old job back, which Mr. Slate respectfully accepts. As the Flintstones and Rubbles have finally made up, Fred and Barney get into another quarrel when Fred once again asks Barney for a bit of money for breakfast.
- John Goodman as Fred Flintstone
- Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Flintstone
- Rick Moranis as Barney Rubble
- Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble
- Kyle MacLachlan as Cliff Vandercave
- Halle Berry as Miss Sharon Stone
- Elizabeth Taylor as Pearl Slaghoople
- Richard Moll as Hoagie
- Irwin Keyes as Joe Rockhead
- Harvey Korman as the voice of the Dictabird
- Dann Florek as Mr. Slate
- Jonathan Winters as Grizzled Man, A co-worker of Fred and Barney's
- Mel Blanc as the voice of Dino (Brian Levant used Blanc's previously recorded works to provide Dino's voice)
- Elaine & Melanie Silver as Pebbles Flintstone
- Hlynur & Marinó Sigurðsson as Bamm-Bamm Rubble
- The B-52's as themselves (but performing as the BC-52's)
- Jean Vander Pyl (the original voice of Wilma) as Mrs. Feldspar
- Jay Leno appears as a talk show host
- William Hanna as a boardroom executive
- Joseph Barbera as a man driving a Mersandes
- Sam Raimi as a Fred Flintsone look-alike
- Michael Richards as a paper man
- Chris Rock as a co-worker at the quarry
According to pre-release publicity for The Flintstones, Sharon Stone was to play Miss Sharon Stone, but turned it down as she was already working on The Specialist. Nicole Kidman was the second choice for the role, but Halle Berry won the part after a screen test. Steven Spielberg said Danny DeVito was the original first choice for Barney. DeVito eventually turned down the role as he felt he was too gruff to do the character properly and reportedly suggested Rick Moranis for the role. Premiere magazine showed Elizabeth Montgomery as being considered for the role of Pearl Slaghoople. Rosie O'Donnell claims she won the role of Betty Rubble with her impersonation of the cartoon character's signature giggle.
In 1985, producers Keith Barish and Joel Silver bought the rights for a live-action feature film version of The Flintstones and commissioned Steven E. de Souza to write a script with Richard Donner hired to direct. Silver was said to be interested in casting James Belushi in the role of Fred. De Souza's script was eventually rejected and Mitch Markowitz was hired to write a script. Said to be a cross of "The Grapes of Wrath", Markowitz commented that "I don't even remember it that well, but Fred and Barney leave their town during a terrible depression and go across the country, or whatever that damn prehistoric thing is, looking for jobs. They wind up in trailer parks trying to keep their families together. They exhibit moments of heroism and poignancy." Markowitz's version was apparently too sentimental for director Donner, who disliked it.
Eventually, the rights were bought by Amblin Entertainment and Steven Spielberg who, after working with John Goodman on Always, was determined to cast him in the lead as Fred. Brian Levant was hired as director, they knew he was the right person because they were impressed that he was an avid fan with amount of Flintstones items collection and the knowledge he had from the series, and all previous scripts were thrown out. Levant then recruited, what he called, an "all-star writing team" which consisted of his writer friends from television shows such as Family Ties, Night Court and Happy Days. "This is a sitcom on steroids," said Levant. "We were just trying to improve it." Dubbed the Flintstone Eight, the group wrote a new draft but four more round table sessions ensued, each of which was attended by new talent. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel took home a reported $100,000 for just two days work. Rick Moranis was also present at Levant's roundtables, and later described the film as "one of those scripts that had about 18 writers." 
The effects for Dino, Dictabird, and the other prehistoric creatures were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
The film received generally negative reviews by film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 22% "Rotten" rating based on 41 reviews with an average rating of 3.8/10. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 38 out of 100, which indicates "generally unfavorable reviews", based on 38 reviews.
On the TV series Siskel and Ebert, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two thumbs down. They both mentioned that its main story lines (embezzlement, mother-in-law problems, office politics and extra-marital affairs) were storylines for adult films, and ones that children wouldn't be able to understand. However, many critics praised the film's look and costume design, which was made by Rosanna Norton and John Goodman's performance.
Rosie O'Donnell won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her performance in this film. The film also won Worst Screenplay and was nominated for two others: Elizabeth Taylor as Worst Supporting Actress (the second performance in the film nominated for this award) and for the film as Worst Remake or Sequel. However, the film also received four Saturn Award nominations, including Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume Design and Best Supporting Actress for Rosie O'Donnell's and Halle Berry's performances.
In 1997 interview, Flintstones co-creator and Hanna-Barbera co-founder/co-chairman Joseph Barbera stated that, although he was impressed by the film's visuals, he felt the story "wasn't as good as I could have made it."
Box office performance
Despite the negative reviews, The Flintstones was a box office success, grossing $130,531,208 domestically, including the $37,182,745 it made during its 4-day Memorial Day opening weekend in 1994. It fared even better overseas, making another $211,100,000, for a total of $341,631,208 worldwide, against a $46 million budget.
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas was released in 2000 (six years after the first film). The original cast did not reprise their roles as the main characters, though Rosie O'Donnell provided the voice of an octopus who gave massages to the younger versions of Betty & Wilma. And Irwin Keyes returned as Joe Rockhead, the only cast member to reprise his original role from the first film. Unlike its predecessor, it failed at the box office.
McDonald's marketed a number of Flintstones promotions for the movie, including the return of the McRib sandwich and the "Grand Poobah Meal" combo with it, a line of premium glass mugs, and toys based on characters & locations from the movie. In the commercials and released items for the Flintstones promotion, McDonald's was renamed "RocDonald's" with stone age imagery, similarly to other businesses and proper names in the Flintstones franchise.
Home media releases
The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc on November 8th, 1994 by MCA Universal Home Video, then made its DVD debut on September 24th, 2002. Universal Studios Home Entertainment released the movie on Blu-ray on August 19th, 2014.
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- Chris Hardwick (2013-06-12). "Nerdist Podcast: Rick Moranis". Nerdist Podcast (Podcast). Nerdist Industries. Event occurs at 1:13:36. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
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- James, Caryn (1994-05-27). "Review/Film: The Flintstones; Lovable And Loud, With Wits Of Stone". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
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- Wilmington, Michael (1994-05-27). "Yabba-dabba Dud". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Maltin, Leonard (February 26, 1997). "'Joseph Barbera Interview'". Archive of American Television. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
- Fox, David J. (1994-05-31). "`Flintstones' Leaves the Rest in Its Dust Movies: The live-action film takes in $37.5 million over the weekend. Ticket-price inflation notwithstanding, it establishes a record for a Memorial Day opening, based on preliminary estimates.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
- Natale, Richard (1994-06-13). "Speed Drives to a Fast Start : Movies: The thriller passes 'The Flintstones,' while 'City Slickers II' gallops to third at the box office.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- The Flintstones at the Internet Movie Database
- The Flintstones at the TCM Movie Database
- The Flintstones at Box Office Mojo
- The Flintstones at AllMovie
- The Flintstones at Rotten Tomatoes