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FLINTSTONES: VIVA ROCK VEGAS review

I really don’t expect anyone anywhere to believe me when I tell them about FLINTSTONES: VIVA ROCK VEGAS.

The first FLINTSTONES had one or two bright spots with the effects, and then died for the rest of the film. John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O’Donnell and Elizabeth Perkins.... well, they never ceased being... John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O’Donnell and Elizabeth Perkins. Then the film’s overall plot of being an embezzlement scheme.... That’d be like making a Star Wars movie about a trade dispute.

What’s up with that?

But the main issue was... Rosie O’Donnell, no matter how well she did Betty’s voice was not and will never be a sex goddess. That’d be like casting me as Alfred E Newman just because I have reddish hair.... WRONG! It’d be like casting Nick Cage as SUPERMAN....

The cast that they choose to play the FLINTSTONE characters... have to disappear and simply become those characters. John Goodman just isn’t Fred... Rick Moranis isn’t Barney...

So... years pass by, the first film made enough money that Universal realized there was potential in the franchise, but they also seem to have realized the first film was pretty damn bad.

So... What do they do? Do they fire Brian Levant, the man behind THE FLINTSTONES first live action film? NO.... and that’s where the dread came from this evening upon entering the theater.

You see... I have heard rumblings... rumors that THE FLINTSTONES: VIVA ROCK VEGAS was a really really good movie.... but noone would write the review. I understand that. Whoever writes the first review for this film is going to be slapped around like a wife of Mike Tyson’s. Well.... call me bitch and start slugging, cause I’m set to be your punching bag...

I didn’t have tickets to this film. I received a phone call yesterday from the Line Goddess, Jan... saying that the screening was taking place at the Metropolitan theater at 7pm.

Somehow I managed to get Dad in the car to go... the first film amounted into an argument between him and me that nearly destroyed our friendship. He thought THE FLINTSTONES was a mountain of dinoshit... I thought it was a beautiful film with a few patches of dinoshit scattered through it. Degrees of mediocrity I suppose.

Well, my grandfather, his father, told us boys that “to get kicked once by a mule... it’s the mule’s fault... get kicked twice and you’re the ass.” Ol Father Geek quoted this at me a couple of times on the drive... damn rush hour traffic.

Upon arriving at the theater... there is a vast line of children with parents. The beautiful Gissela, Queen of the Theater Jungles, to greet me. Glen Oliver and his boy David in tow. And quickly we were all seated.

I said to Glen, “Looking forward to the film?”

Glen snarled up his face and said... “Brian Levant!”

I retorted with, “THE GREAT GAZOO!”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

“Brian Levant”

“GREAT GAZOO”

And then we had our seats. I began reflecting upon the career of Brian Levant. PROBLEM CHILD 2, BEETHOVEN, FLINTSTONES... OHMYGOD.... Brian Levant.... Oh dear God.... Brian Levant. Oh hell... Oh man.... He sucks....

But dammit... I have heard rumors that this film does not suck. It has Mark Addy, who was brilliant in THE FULL MONTY... and was the only truly wonderful thing in JACK FROST. Then there was Stephen Baldwin... He’d been good once in his career, 19 films previously in THE USUAL SUSPECTS... maybe... he doesn’t look a thing like Barney Rubble though... alright, he’ll blow.

The girl from THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN... well, I like her. Maybe she can be Wilma. The gal playing Betty though... She’s way friggin hotter than the last sausage to stretch that blue hide. Well... they’re better cast anyways.

I don’t know... we’ll see.

That’s where I was when the film started. I wasn’t too up for the film. I was just hoping to see a few cool or funny dinosaur gags. Awaiting non-stop farting and poo poo humor and figuring... well... it’s probably just 100 minutes.

100 minutes... man, that could’ve been long as hell.

Like the last time.

WRONGO!

Now, I know... with the information you have from that trailer... the visual look of Barney played by Stephen Baldwin... and the rest being mainly unknown to your eyes.... This movie probably looks... No, I take that back, it definitely looks like crap. The sort of crap they shovel down our kids’ throats and call entertainment.

Well... This film is not that film. Brian Levant, from the looks of this film.... was being pushed around completely during the first film. I’m willing to bet his casting was chosen for him. That he had very little to do with pre-production... That Spielberg and Universal were making decisions and then he was stuck with the ramifications.

On this film... He seemed to be left alone. I mean seriously... why would you make a FLINTSTONES movie starring Mark Addy and Stephen Baldwin? I mean, the biggest names in this film are Joan Collins and Harvey Korman. Whatever... this film is easy absolutely the first film in what could be a really cool franchise if they keep these people together.

Mark Addy IS Fred Flintstone. At all times, his voice and face do that Ralph Kramden/Fred gargle commanding tone thing. When he’s whispering... he sounds like Fred. When he’s exclaiming... he’s Fred. He is FRED FLINTSTONE. He wears the clothes better. He has thought clouds, when he’s feeling little... he’ll physically shrink.... when he’s in love hearts will sprout all over the screen. When he becomes greedy, his eyes will grow big and do the slot machine thing landing on dollar signs. He does the twinkle toes thing. He... well... He’s Fred Flintstone... a fairly regular all-stone age working class cave man. He has big dreams... big ideas... but can never really get the job done.

Stephen Baldwin.... Barney Rubble... I don’t know what sort of ‘act of God’ occurred, but Stephen Baldwin became Barney Rubble up there. Those Blue eyes of his... well... Ya know how Barney’s eyes were just black... no whites. Ya know how he’d stare at Fred, and Fred would just slug his shoulder and say, “Coooome on Barney Snap out of it”? Well, those Blue Eyes of Stephen’s somehow communicated that same dim glimmer of dullness... That vacuous stoned look, that I had somehow always imbued Barney Rubble with. And then there’s the voice. My god. It’s Barney Rubble. The ‘heh heh heh’ laugh while shaking the shoulders... That golly style to his nature... His appetite... his unending hunger... it’s here.

Then there’s Kristen Johnston as Wilma. Well, on the show, Wilma was always nagging Fred to stop with those crazy ideas... she was always being strong and independent, but a housewife. Here... it’s pre-that-Wilma. Here we see where Wilma came from... What her mom (Joan Collins) was like (BITCH) and her father (Harvey Korman) was like (insane) as well. Wilma does a very good job of being smart, lost, confused and missing that Fred element in her life. She wants a normal existence... a family... a regular guy that loves... her.

Now... Jane Krakowski as Betty Rubble.... well, ya see... When I watched the FLINTSTONES series... I always thought... man... Wilma is your wife... Betty is your fuck goddess. She’s hot... she’s your Lolita babe with the heart sunglasses. Barney might be a little dim... but he goes home at night to lay down with Betty! Holy Moly. What a woman! When I first see Betty on her roller-skates at the car hop... the ol Rollergirl fetish thing started flashing... You notice the black hair and the hourglass figure... That giggle of hers... Oh deeeeeeelicious.

SHE’S HOT! That’s the way it should be!

Now, I know... what about the movie? What is it about?

Well... ya see... heh heh heh.... Alan Cumming plays THE GREAT GAZOO... and the film begins with GAZOO being sent to Earth.... a bit like Clarence in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.... but to study the ‘Mating Habits’ of primitive man. That’s right... the film is about Fred and Barney and their pursuit of getting laid.

“That’s great Fred, Betty wants to take me back to our place and cook me Breakfast in the morning...” He looks down... up... real blank... then, “...I don’t know what we’ll do till then though.”

Oh my god... laugh out loud hard. When you hear the delivery from Baldwin... that look in his eye... my god, this might be the best character work of his career. He’s fucking amazing as Barney. His eyes never ever denote that he knows what he’s doing. He’s all instinct and smile.

Alan Cumming as the Great Gazoo is soooo cool looking and his character is just exactly what the character of Mr Mxylpltk (I know I misspelled that and that too) should be. He is the most perfect cartoon to reality transformation ever created. I want a life size GREAT GAZOO modeled after this version of the character... I’d have him floating over there in the corner of my room.

The most amazing thing about this film... is it really isn’t for kids. It’s aimed at adults... the biggest laughs over my shoulders were coming from adults... I won’t ruin any more bits... That’d be criminal... but the fact that the Great Gazoo... as played by Alan Cumming... is sent to Earth to study heterosexual mating habits of two men that roommate together... well, there’s whole layers of other jokes that I was appreciating like crazy in this thing.

Joan Collins is easily 5 times the she-bitch that Elizabeth Taylor wanted to be. Harvey Korman’s character is hysterical, and proves that he’s not dead.

So what happened on the making of FLINTSTONES 2?

Well, I can only guess that Brian Levant and his team of writers were allowed to just shoot from the hip... I mean, they were expected to make a movie that would gross at most 2/3rds of the original film. So they dared to actually make not only a better film, but a movie that completely eclipses that turd and shows EXACTLY how you make a movie adaptation from a comic/cartoon.

1st.... you cast actors (not stars) that can become the iconic characters you want them to be.

2nd... You look at the series, realize that was a 30 minute episode... and take the characters on an adventure that would be a feature length story.

3rd... You pay attention to the intended audience. Pebbles and BamBam were for kids... Barney and Fred and Wilma and Betty were for adults. It was FAMILY entertainment, meaning that you entertain adults.... AND the kids. And you don’t treat either as Neanderthals, even if that’s the subject of your film.

4th... You actually DO the things the characters did originally. If Fred’s eyes leave his head.... then... ya got to do that.... If he floats across the room.... ya gotta do that.... If Barney has a voracious appetite.... he eats... if Betty is a fuck goddess... Betty must remain a fuck goddess.

In this FLINTSTONES movie, they treat Rosie O’Donnell correctly... she’s the voice of the Octopus. Perfect casting.

This movie does everything right, it moves fast and very fast, it’s entertaining, funny and even a bit touching. This was a complete and utter surprise tonight, and like STAR TREK II after the MOTIONLESS PICTURE.... on the second film... They Nail It!

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