Theatrical Film Poster by Drew Struzan
|Directed by||Brian Levant|
|Produced by||Bruce Cohen
Tom S. Parker
Steven E. de Souza
Characters and Series:
Mel Blanc (voice)
Harvey Korman (voice)
|Music by||David Newman|
|Editing by||Kent Beyda|
|Distributed by||Universal Studios|
|Release date(s)||May 27, 1994 (U.S.)|
|Running time||91 min.|
|Budget||$45,000,000 US (est.)|
|Preceded by||The Man Called Flintstone|
|Followed by||The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas|
The Flintstones is a 1994 American live-action film directed by Brian Levant, and based on the prime time animated series of the same name. It is produced by Amblin Entertainment, Hanna-Barbera Productions and distributed by Universal Studios. The film was poorly received by critics but was a box-office success. It was followed by a prequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, released in 2000.
Cliff Vandercave, the Executive Vice President of Industrial Procurement at Slate & Co., plans to appoint a Vice President of his division to frame for a crime. To find one, he makes an exam to give to the quarry operators, among whom are Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. Fred loans Barney money so he and his wife, Betty can adopt a child. They adopt a caveboy named Bamm-Bamm. Barney appreciates what Fred did for him and is determined to pay him back. While taking the exams, Fred fails it, and is disappointed since he will not be able to give his wife, Wilma the wealthy life she used to have. Barney takes Fred's exam up for him and notices how poorly he did. To pay him back for giving him the money to adopt Bamm-Bamm, he swaps his exam with Fred's and Fred is promoted to Vice President.
On Fred's first day as an executive, Cliff brings him to his new office, where he meets his secretary, Sharon Stone, who seduces Fred to make him blind to how Cliff is manipulating him. Cliff orders Fred to fire Barney because of his exam score, and he (very reluctantly and sadly) fires Barney at the Rubbles' surprise party, but does his best to help Barney afterwards with financial problems. Cliff proposes a new machine that will do all of the quarry work and increase the company's income. However, Fred is concerned about the operators losing their jobs. Cliff plans to have a fake version of the machine built and flee with the money gained from the machine, and frame Fred for it. To convince Fred to sign the contracts for the machine without reading it, Miss Stone seduces him once again. However, Wilma walks in and witnesses Fred and Miss Stone flirting, forcing a strain on their marriage. The Rubbles move into the Flintstones' home, while the Flintstones' wealth increase and the Rubbles become more resentful towards them.
While out at a restaurant, Barney, now working as a busboy, sees on the news that Fred has fired all of the quarry operators. He confronts him about it, and their argument leads to Barney revealing that he switched their tests. The Rubbles move out and Wilma abandons Fred. The next day, Fred finds out about Cliff's plan, eventually leading into a chase by an angry mob of the unemployed quarry operators. They eventually catch Fred and attempt to lynch him and Barney once they find out it was because of him that Fred was promoted the job. Fred and Barney reconcile while Wilma, Betty and the dictabird arrive at the scene to explain the crime to the mob. Cliff kidnaps Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm and lures Fred and Barney into a trap and revealing his true intentions. Cliff attempts to kill the dictabird, but is knocked out by Miss Stone, who had realised Cliff's eventual betrayal. While Barney rescues the kids, Fred uses the catapult to destroy Cliff's machine, causing Cliff to be trapped in a mixture of water and stone. Miss Stone is arrested, but Fred promises to vouch for her helping him to the police. Mr. Slate declares his love of the substance that Cliff was trapped in, deciding to name it after his daughter Concretia, and declares the Stone Age over with its creation. Slate offers Fred the presidency of a new division in the company, but Fred turns it down in exchange his old job, Slate rehiring all the workers, and adding a few other improvements to the workplace he had originally desired as an executive.
The film ends with a live action montage of the animated series' closing credits.
According to pre-release publicity for The Flintstones, Sharon Stone was invited to play the role of Sharon Stone, but had to decline as she was already working on Diabolique. She later admitted her regret for turning down the role. After Sharon declined, the producers mulled changing the character's name to "Rosetta Stone," but decided most people would miss the archeological reference.
According to executive producer Steven Spielberg, while Goodman was intended to play Fred from the start, 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 Moranis for the role. The Flintstones ended up being Moranis' second collaboration with Hanna-Barbera, after the TV series Gravedale High - which aired on (and was co-produced by) NBC (now a corporate sibling to the film's distributor, Universal Pictures).
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 Jim Belushi in the role of Fred. Steven E. 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 heoism 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. Briant Levant was hired as director 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 show 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 roudtable 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.
The Flintstones has received generally negative reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film as "Rotten", with only 18% of its selected critics giving the film positive reviews, based on 39 reviews (7 "fresh", 32 "rotten") with an average rating of 3.6/10. 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 negative reviews", based on 38 reviews. Siskel and Ebert also gave this film two thumbs down.
In at least two cases, the physical appearance of the actors selected for the roles was the source of dislike by both critics and fans. Taylor as Wilma's mother, Mrs. Slaghoople, was said not to have matched the physique of the original cartoon character, who had been a physical match for Fred; Taylor was easily dwarfed by Goodman. Some saw O'Donnell's portrayal of Betty to be unacceptable, as her physique did not match that of the slender Betty. O'Donnell was the recipient of the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her performance in this film. The film also won the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay and was nominated for two others, Taylor as Worst Supporting Actress (the second performance in the film nominated for this award) and for the film as Worst Remake or Sequel. The film was criticized for the storyline about Fred having an affair with his secretary, saying it was too innappropriate for a family film, along with the attire of Halle Berry's character, as she wears a top that strongly resembles a bra and a skirt that very obviously reveals her legs.
Despite these issues, The Flintstones was a box office hit, grossing over $130 million domestically, including the $29.6 million made during the Memorial Day weekend in 1994 and over $340 million worldwide. It was also a major seller in the DVD market, and according to Netflix has been in their top 100 rentals since the company first went into business.