Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Flintstones

Year 9, Day 43 - 2/12/17 - Movie #2,543

BEFORE: If you recall, I instituted a rule change this past January 1 that would allow me to link between two movies that featured the same characters, if played by different actors.  I had the "Flintstones" films in mind (and also two films about Peter Pan coming up) but it turns out that the rule change wasn't that necessary - Rosie O'Donnell supplied the voice of an octopus masseuse in last night's prequel, and she carries over to appear in person tonight.  Also, Harvey Korman did the opposite, he appeared in person in the prequel, and tonight provides the voice of an animal appliance.  (He also was the voice of the Great Gazoo in the original cartoon.). So, linking is maintained. 

Though this film may be off-topic for February, I can't see breaking up the two films in a franchise - so by scheduling it here I'm continuing to celebrate the relationships of the Flintstones and the Rubbles.  What better metaphor for the rocky road of relationships could there be than the married couples of Bedrock, where everything is made out of rocks?  Come on, how many other married caveman couples do we still remember?  OK, so it's a stretch, but I need one of the actors in this film to lead me to tomorrow's very famous classic film about another historical romance. 

And here are the classic films in the line-up for TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" on Monday, 2/13:
5:45 AM Ice Station Zebra (1968)
8:45 AM I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
10:45 AM Imitation of Life (1934)
12:45 PM Imitation of Life (1959)
3:00 PM In the Heat of the Night (1967)
5:00 PM Indiscretion of an American Wife (1954)
6:15 PM The Informer (1935)
8:00 PM Inherit the Wind (1960)
10:15 PM Jaws (1975)
12:30 AM Key Largo (1948)
2:30 AM Kind Lady (1951)
4:00 AM Kings Row (1942)

I've only seen 3 out of these 12 - "In the Heat of the Night", "Inherit the Wind" and "Jaws".  It seems a little odd to run two versions of the same film, back-to-back, but I think I know why - by padding the schedule a little, they managed to move a fair number of films about love and romance to the next day, which of course is Valentine's Day.  I go through the same dilemma - which film should I watch on Feb. 14? - so some people at TCM must ask themselves the same question.  My record moves up only slightly once again, to 58 seen out of 140.  

THE PLOT: Fred Flintstone finally gets the job he's always wanted, but it may just come at a price.

AFTER: So after watching the Flintstones prequel, which was made 2nd but took place first, now I'm watching the first film in the series, which took place second, making it a pre-emptive sequel to the prequel that was made later.  Right?  The movie business is a numbers game, that's for sure.  This first film had a $46 million budget and grossed $130 million in the U.S., but the sequel - er, prequel - was made for $83 million, and grossed only $35 million in the U.S., which explains why they never made another one.  John Goodman refused to make another film in this series, which explains why they had to go back in time for the next film, maybe Mr. Goodman was on to something.

The re-casting worked, for the most part - I can buy Jane Krakowski as a young Rosie O'Donnell, and Kristen Johnston maturing into Elizabeth Perkins, but audiences seemed to have a harder time with Mark Addy playing a younger Fred, and then we have Barney Rubble somehow losing a lot of height as he matured from Stephen Baldwin into Rick Moranis.  Maybe there was an accident at the quarry that compressed him down a bit.  And Joan Collins maturing into Elizabeth Taylor - OK, I'll allow that.

The villain in today's film is Cliff Vandercave, a conniving executive at Slate Construction, who embezzles a lot of money from the company, creates a lot of pre-fab sub-standard housing projects, and sets up Fred Flintstone to take the blame.  And last night's villain ran a casino - why didn't Americans learn from these two films before the 2016 election, and realize that you just can't trust people in both the casino and construction businesses?

To find their fall guy, Cliff and his seductive secretary, Sharon Stone, get all of the workers to take a test to determine which of them is worthy of advancement to an executive position.  Fred and Barney both take the test, which seems easy at first - I mean, they only have to be smarter than a bunch of Neanderthals, literally.  But Fred mixes up his days, and fails to study, so he has to take the test cold. Barney, who feels that he owes Fred a debt for loaning him money to adopt a child, switches his test slab with Fred's, giving Fred the highest score.

Now, here's where the plot sort of falls apart, because why would the evil executive promote the man with the highest score?  If he's looking for someone to just sign stone-work and not read it, and not think too much about what he's authorizing, why would he advance the smartest worker?  Shouldn't he offer the position to the dumbest caveman, if he's planning on manipulating him and using him as a puppet?  So there's one too many reversals here, or perhaps it's one too few.  They could just as easily had the executive or the secretary switch the test results, and then just have Barney investigate the test, after being sure that he scored better.

But again, perhaps I shouldn't expect a live-action cartoon to make much logical sense.  Fred's friendship with Barney is tested after he is told to fire him, and his marriage to Wilma is tested when Fred starts acting all uppity and the Rubbles are forced to move in with them, and then out.

I suppose these two Flintstones films could have been a lot worse - and I guess bowling as Fred Flintstone prepared John Goodman for his role in "The Big Lebowski", so there's that.  If you go on IMDB and read about the other actors who could have been cast, or check out the other story ideas that Wikipedia lists, you might come to the same conclusion, that these films turned out fairly all right, by comparision.

Also starring John Goodman (last heard in "Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle"), Elizabeth Perkins (last seen in "Ghostbusters (2016)"), Rick Moranis (last seen in "Club Paradise"), Kyle MacLachlan (last heard in "Inside Out"), Halle Berry (last seen in "The Last Boy Scout"), Elizabeth Taylor, Dann Florek (last seen in "Sunset"), Richard Moll, Jonathan Winters (last heard in "The Smurfs 2"), with cameos from Sheryl Lee Ralph, Laraine Newman, Jay Leno (last seen in "Ted 2"), Sam Raimi and the B-52's (as the BC-52's).

RATING: 4 out of 10 pink slips

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