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Movie Review

One word: prequel. Hey, if it worked for Star Wars, why not The Flintstones? The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas visits Bedrock before prehistoric cartoon couples Fred and Wilma, and Barney and Betty even met. It’s a double romance that blossoms from an inadvertent double date (of course Fred and Barney pair off with the "wrong" girls at first). Then trouble sets in when Wilma’s former beau, Chip, realizes he’s losing his meal ticket (Wilma’s family is loaded). So he invites Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty to the grand opening of his new casino in Rock Vegas, plotting to trap Fred in the snares of debt so he can win Wilma—and her wealth—back. Meanwhile, a Martian named The Great Gazoo hovers about making wisecracks and "documenting" human mating rituals.

Positive Elements: Discontented with her posh, unexciting life, Wilma realizes that money and power can never equal happiness, a simple life, true love and self-respect. Fred can’t provide her with any of the "modern" conveniences that she’s used to, but he can give her what she needs most, unfettered love. Fred finally realizes it too and says, "I tried to impress Wilma with money, but all I did was ruin everything." Barney’s not too bright, but he’s loyal, a character trait that attracts Betty and secures his friendship with Fred. When Fred is framed for robbery, Barney sticks up for him and tries to convince the crowd that he’s innocent (of course they just assume Barney helped Fred with the crime).

Spiritual Content: None.

Sexual Content: Only sly innuendoes intrude here. For instance, Barney tells Fred that Betty wants to cook him breakfast and puzzles over what he and Betty will do till then. A homosexual joke arises when Gazoo thinks Fred and Barney are going to "go to it." Fred and Barney don sequined "Rockettes" gowns to disguise themselves.

Violent Content: Fred accidentally hits Barney in the face while trying to slug The Great Gazoo. Later, Fred kicks Gazoo. Fred’s dinosaur-dog (Dino) pushes him off of a Ferris wheel, careens through a dinner party, uproots the tree to which he’s chained and generally creates a great deal of cartoon-style mayhem. Fred and Mick Jagged get into a fist fight. In Rock Vegas a professional-style wrestling match is staged in which combatants hit each other over the head with large clubs. Two "mobsters" threaten Chip and squeeze his head in a vice.

Crude or Profane Language: Minimal. Mick Jagged blurts out "bloody h---."

Drug and Alcohol Content: Giant mixed drinks and champagne flow at a dinner party and in Rock Vegas. Wilma’s mom drinks from a small flask.

Other Negative Elements: Rock Vegas means gambling. And Fred loves to gamble. Slots. Tables. Cards. Wheels. He does it all. His habit does land him in a heap of financial trouble, but only because he’s a "dumb-dumb" not because gambling is portrayed as inherently wrong.

Summary: A few redeeming qualities and the virtual absence of foul language just can’t revive The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas’ half-hearted acting and second-rate scripts. Film critic Roger Ebert writes, "It's not delightful or funny or exciting, and for long stretches, it looks exactly like hapless actors standing in front of big rocks and reciting sitcom dialogue." Wesley Morris of the San Francisco Examiner goes further when he quips that the movie is "a sad, strange, dismal thing to inflict upon a child, let alone their parents, who've taken them with something like, say, fun in mind." Younger children may well soak up the film’s clever props and "modernly prehistoric" staging, but teens will find little use for its silly storytelling.

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Cast

Mark Addy as Fred Flintstone; Stephen Baldwin as Barney Rubble; Jane Krakowski as Betty O'Shale; Kristen Johnston as Wilma Slaghoople; Joan Collins as Pearl Slaghoople; Alan Cumming as The Great Gazoo and Mick Jagged; Harvey Korman as Col. Slaghoople; Thomas Gibson as Chip Rockefeller; Rosie O'Donnell makes a cameo appearance as the voice of an octopus

Director

Brian Levant ( The Spy Next DoorAre We There Yet?Snow Dogs)

Distributor

Universal Pictures

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Reviewer

Steven Isaac

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