Like British media producer Simon Cowell, I’ve always been a fan of the Flintstones. What’s not to love? A satirical suburban family having to make do with stone age versions of contemporary amenities. The inventive (albeit cruel ways) the prehistoric life are used to replace modern appliances. So when it came to making a live-action adaptation, it’s an exciting but complicated property to take on. Riding on the success of other Prehistoric comedies, like Dinosaurs, in 1994 Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty finally got their big break in The Flintstones.
When Fred’s best friend Barney wants to adopt a child, Fred is only too happy to help. Meanwhile, at work, there’s an aptitude test to find a new executive Barney decides to help Fred despite himself having the better chance. But when Barney swaps his tests for Fred’s, Flintstone finds himself promoted to an executive. His first duty is fire Barney, and then he goes on to discover how this high up position has dire consequences, for his family and himself.
When adapting one of the most beloved cavemen families to live-action, it can be difficult to replicate the iconic characters, as you need somebody who not only looks the part but talks it as well. Fred the lovable loud mouth, is made flesh through the obvious and fitting casting of John Goodman, Rick Moranis while being a less obvious choice, takes to the role of barney rather well and brings a sympathetic quality that is rarely explored in the cartoon. Betty is seamless as Rosie O’Donnell and the same with Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma. Newcomers Hailey Berry and Kyle MacLachlan manage to do the impossible by feeling natural to the world of Bedrock while bringing the much-needed Hollywood quality that this film deserves.
Of course, the classic theme song is preserved, a lovingly fun adaptation of the classic cartoon theme, done by the effortlessly cool alternative rock band, The B52s, who in the loving tradition of the show get a suitable prehistoric name the BC-52s. The sets and props all bask in the colourful and rock-themed versions of day-to-day life. As well as joining these clever carvings are the prehistoric animals made real by practical effects, and skilled puppetry. Bedrock is filled with humorous jokes and references almost designed to be freeze-framed and enjoyed later.
Making a live-action adaptation of a cartoon can be limiting, but in The Flintstone’s example, it helps to put more flesh on the bone and depth to characters, without sacrificing that satirical, endearing, well-observed charm that made the initial show a hit. One thing I can say to fans new and old is, with the Flintstones, you’ll have a gay old time for sure.
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