Alan CummingStephen BaldwinJane KrakowskiHarvey Korman
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Medium: film
Year: 2000
Director: Brian Levant
Writer: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.
Actor: Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Kristen Johnston, Jane Krakowski, Joan Collins, Thomas Gibson, Alan Cumming, Harvey Korman, Alex Meneses, John Taylor, Tony Longo, Danny Woodburn, Taylor Negron, Gary Epp
Keywords: Razzie-nominated, dinosaurs
Country: USA
Format: 90 minutes
Website category: Other
Review date: 1 September 2011
You're going to think I'm even madder than you thought before. I enjoyed it. I thought it was good.
Setting the scene, The Flintstones was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series with a killer theme tune, which later became a 1994 live-action movie starring John Goodman and Rick Moranis. This is its 2000 prequel that stars cheaper actors and explains how Fred and Barney got together with Wilma and Betty. It has romantic misunderstandings in which one character sees another character doing something on the other side of a room, jumps to the wrong conclusion and starts going out with a rock star. (If only it were that simple, eh?)
The plot is negligible. If this were a serious movie, it would be annoying. However fortunately to take this film seriously, you'd have to be a psychopath or something.
The important thing is that they find a tone that works. The 1994 film, which I haven't seen, apparently had a plot about embezzlement, mother-in-law problems, office politics and extra-marital affairs. This one though is simply trying to be fun, with nothing to scare the kiddies. It has a stylised archness that's not a million miles away from the 1986 movie of Little Shop of Horrors. The actors are, believe it or not, often surprisingly good. It's also dabbling in cartoon reality, so for instance a boulder gets dropped on someone's head and they merely become a midget. Fred can walk on his tiptoes ballet-style, complete with "tink-a-tink-a" sound effects. A CGI dinosaur farts and then breaks the fourth wall to say, "Hey, I got three stomachs. Cut me some slack."
Then there's Gazoo (Alan Cumming). Gazoo was in the original TV series, surprisingly, albeit only introduced halfway through the last season. He's a alien who's been exiled to Earth and is only visible to Fred and Barney. Basically he's Alan Cumming's disembodied head, but green and able to fly. He has very little impact on the story, but he's fun anyway because he's rude, makes trouble and is responsible for a funny idea at the beginning as he's being exiled to Earth. He's being exiled to a planet with no civilisation... "Earth!" Normally this would merely suggest pompousness, arrogance and/or godlike technology, but here he's visiting the Stone Age!
It's the actors who make it. They're taking some lowbrow material and making it work, although you'd have to get on to their stylised level to agree with me. My favourite was Barney (Stephen Baldwin), who's thicker than Baldrick and finds a really endearing way to play it. It's not realistic, but it's perfect for the film he's in. Fred (Mark Addy) somehow didn't look right physically to me, being perhaps a bit boyish and lightweight, but maybe I was comparing him in my head with John Goodman. I like his performance, though. As for the girls, Betty (Jane Krakowski) is matching Baldwin and I really enjoyed watching them together. Wilma (Kristen Johnston) could be argued to be the weak link, since I didn't think she was conveying her character's wealthy background, but then again Wilma's supposed to be nice and fighting against her inherited lifestyle of snobbery and fabulous wealth anyway. She works with Addy and she's fun, which is the important thing.
Johnston doesn't strike me as pretty enough to play Wilma, mind you, but on the other hand Krakowski is gorgeous.
Besides, just because these people aren't first-rank stars, that doesn't mean they're nobodies. They're mostly solid TV actors with some respectable movie work in there. Mark Addy is British and was the chubby one in The Full Monty. Stephen Baldwin was in The Usual Suspects, Born on the Fourth of July and Last Exit to Brooklyn. Kristen Johnston was in 3rd Rock from the Sun and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, while Jane Krakowski was in Ally McBeal and 30 Rock. There are also recognisable names in the supporting cast, with Wilma's parents being Joan Collins (you know her) and Harvey Korman (the Pink Panther movies, Blazing Saddles, The Star Wars Holiday Special). Collins is slightly askew. Somehow she's at the same time (a) way better than this and (b) not very good, but on the other hand she also fits like a glove. What makes her larger than life isn't so much her acting choices, but simply the fact that she's Joan Collins.
Oh, and the soundtrack is a ton of fun. I thought that was Eartha Kitt singing, but it's actually Ann-Margret, who starred opposite Elvis Presley in the original Viva Las Vegas and was in the original Flintstones series as "Ann-Margrock". Anyway, this is the kind of film that can go broad with swinging rock, lots of lyrics and more.
Mind you, it was bashed by the critics, flopped at the box office and was nominated for four Razzies: Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor (Stephen Baldwin), Worst Supporting Actress (Joan Collins) and Worst Remake or Sequel. I think they're on drugs regarding Baldwin.
I liked it. Sue me. I like Alan Cumming's double role, which had me wondering but of which I still couldn't convince myself until I saw the end credits. I enjoyed the rubbery dinosaurs and the Stone Age tech. I really like Stephen Baldwin. "Klaatu barada nikto!" made me laugh. I admire the way they get away with Moron Gags and a trivial plot that by rights should have been eye-rolling. I love the fact that they end with a musical number in Vegas and everyone singing "We'll have a gay old time" as they impersonate showgirls.
Baldwin on a date with Krakowski, in the evening... "She's going to cook me breakfast! I don't know what we're going to do until then, but you know I can't turn down a good meal."