Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “The Flintstones.”
The Movie: “The Flintstones”
Starring: John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O’Donnell
Director: Brian Levant
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) In this live-action feature of the cartoon show, Fred Flintstone finally gets the job he’s always wanted, but it may just come at a price.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 22 percent
Froemming: Thus far, the reboot of the JOE-DOWN has gone to familiar places: Action movies. But it wouldn’t be the JOE-DOWN if we didn’t truck through the mud of yesteryear’s garbage. So this week, I decided to visit the mid-1990s again, but put my sights on a live-action remake of a classic cartoon.
Yabba Dabba Doo (REDACTED).
That’s right, I picked 1994’s “The Flintstones,” a movie that features John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O’Donnell, Halle Berry, Kyle MacLachlan, Harvey Korman, Jonathan Winters and Elizabeth (REDACTED) Taylor.
And it still sucks.
Before we get into this, I’m going to finish my rock lobster (because stone age AND B-52’s) while you give us your initial thoughts.
Brown: My initial thought is this: Poor Rick Moranis. In the sequel of this movie, Moranis’ Barney is replaced by Stephen Baldwin, in probably the most accurate casting of his career. When Stephen Baldwin outshines you in the sequel, you know you picked a stinker. Sorry, Rick. Loved you in “Spaceballs.”
So, like any kid coming of age in the ‘90s, I enjoyed the occasional “Flintstones” cartoons on Cartoon Network. Now, as a jaded adult, I hate, hate, HATE having to sit through this slog of unfunny jokes and rock puns.
And in the days of concussion prevention, seeing Fred’s life go from one concussion to the next was alarming.
So Froemming, I’ll let you get this underway while I try to get the look of CGI Dino out of my mind.
Froemming: Well, we get a pretty apt recreation of the classic into of the cartoon. We also learn the Steven Spielrock had something to do with this unholy nightmare of a film.
At the start, we learn Barney Rubble borrowed money from Fred Flintstone to adopt a child. Why does Fred have more money when he and his buddy have the same job and Fred already has a child? I’m guessing because Barney is a degenerate gambler.
Then Fred hides the fact he gave this money away from his wife, keeping the tradition of the toxic marriage we all grew up with from Hanna-Barbera!
Brown: My argument for the Flintstones’ edge would be because WIlma came from money. Since her mom is Elizabeth (REDACTED) Taylor and all.
Also, the Flintstones have their dog, Dino, who may be the most frightening thing that CGI has produced.
Froemming: Wrong. That would be “The Phantom Menace.” *shivers*
Brown: Dino came, what, five years before Lucas’ prequels? I give Dino the edge due to being the OG. The Cloverfield monster wishes it haunted my life like Dino.
Now, the Rubbles get to adopt a child named Bamm-Bamm, who was apparently raised by Mastodons, so you know he rocks.
Brown: There’s also this part early on where, along with giving the Rubbles money for the adoption, Fred gets a new bowling ball. And then he and Wilma fall to the floor, apparently in a fit of passion. Now, Pebbles is in her high chair watching all this go down. Did… did she watch as her dad got his rocks off?
See, now I’m doing the rock puns. Damn you, movie.
Froemming: You suck McBain!
Froemming: Next we visit the work life of Fred and Barney. Slate International’s Special Agent Dale Cooper and Storm from the X-Men are working up a scam to rip off the company for all its valuable rock-dollars or whatever. And, Brown, did you groan as much as I did when you found out not only is Halle Berry in this, but her character’s name is Sharon (REDACTED) Stone?
Brown: My notes here: “Halle Berry… is playing Sharon Stone… Yikes.” The puns are just the (REDACTED) worst here. These are worse than our mutual friend Kyle’s dad jokes.
One thing in this movie did bring a smile to my face: The music in the background of the bowling scene, where Barney vows that he’ll pay Fred back somehow to help push this stupid movie along, is the theme song to “Ren and Stimpy.” That was my jam as a kid, so I’ll always recognize those bongos.
Froemming: Yes, we get John Goodman in a bowling alley in a 1990s flick. And it isn’t Walter Sobchak. I am truly a monster!
Brown: I’ll let Walter give his opinion on you picking “The Flintstones.”
Serious question: Which is more damning to John Goodman’s career? This, or the “Roseanne” reboot.
Froemming: As terrible as this movie is, I do not remember it once taking Ambien and tweeting racist garbage.
Cooper’s plan (I don’t remember his name, so I will refer to MacLachlan as his “Twin Peaks” character) is to give the employees at the rock pit an aptitude test to promote the smartest guy to a VP slot so he can frame him. And this plan basically banks on the smartest guy switching tests with the dumbest guy because why the (REDACTED) would you want someone who could easily figure out your plan to be your rube.
And that is what happens. Cooper Gumped his way into a good plan from his terrible one. Barney, wanting to help his buddy Fred out, switches his test with Fred’s so Mr. Flintstone won’t feel like the moron he truly is.
Brown: It’s easy to see how Fred did poorly. His life is one continuous concussion. He had a (REDACTED) bowling ball fall on his head prior to this. And, his alarm clock is a rock falling on his head. The NFL thinks the amount of brain trauma Fred has suffered is egregious.
Froemming: That is also his legal defense in the “Harvey Birdman” episode where Fred is basically Tony Soprano. His concussions made him think he was a mob boss.
Brown: So, Fred gets promoted to an office position. And I swear this scene was where Donald Trump got his inspiration to wear cartoonishly large ties because Fred’s tie may as well have been a 2×4. This is also humorous because try as you can, no man can look fancy in a sleeveless shirt.
Also, something that made me extremely angry: With the bump in pay, Wilma and Betty go shopping. And they use the “Charge It” joke from another Hanna-Barbera cartoon, “The Jetsons.” This movie is so lazily written that it stole jokes from other cartoons.
Fred also has Sharon Stone (UGGGGGGGGGGH) as his secretary. I enjoyed this only because Hally Berry is beautiful and I’ll enjoy most things she’s in.
Please don’t test this with “Catwoman,” Froemming.
Froemming: I’m adding it to my JOE-DOWN list of movies.
So Fred has his new office and has a bird that takes notes for him voiced by Harvey Korman, who was also in the “Star Wars Holiday Special” which we will do one of these weeks. The bird tries to inform Fred ALL THE TIME that he is being taken advantage of. But Fred, now drunk with power and generally drunk, doesn’t listen. He signs whatever Ms. Stone puts in front of him because he is a doofus.
I feel bad for John Goodman in this movie. Considering he was born to play the role, he should have had something better to work with.
Brown: Yeah, no actor/actress was going to get this movie to be watchable.
So yeah, Fred isn’t smart. But I would think he understands the concept of a pink slip. It means you’re firing someone. You had to know this, you buffoon. I mean, think how hard it is to dye stone tablets pink. It would be a notable thing for EVERYONE.
But whatever, he has to go to Cavern on the Green to rub his wealth in Betty’s face with some swing dancing and the B-52s.
Froemming: Ahem, it was the BC-52’s! Because ROCKS!
Brown: Seriously, (REDACTED) this movie.
Froemming: Before all of this, to exert his power over Fred like the evil spirit BOB from “Twin Peaks,” Cooper has Fred fire Barney because he scored the lowest on the test. Fred obviously does this in front of everyone at a party Barney is throwing in celebration of the promotion. He then kicks the Rubble family out of his home after an altercation following the BC-52’s show.
That is some cold (REDACTED) there Fred. After Jimmy Carter, you are history’s greatest monster.
Brown: Although she was as much a jerk to Betty as Fred was to Barney, Wilma wants Fred to apologize to their long-time friends. He won’t, so Wilma destroys a bunch of possessions in the house. She tips over the TV and it shoots sparks because apparently electricity existed in caveman times…
Froemming: Tommy Wiseau did it better.
Brown: All the while, Fred hears about the guys from the quarry being fired and they blame him. Because he wouldn’t bother reading anything that came his way because Halle Berry gave him sexy eyes. To be fair, I get that.
Before I forget, the late-night TV host in Bedrock? Jay Leno. Makes sense. I’m #TeamCoco forever.
Froemming: Probably stole the gig from David Graniteman.
Froemming: So yeah, Fred signed those pink slips, sees on TV that he is to blame, kicks the Rubbles out, wife leaves him, greeted at the job by protesters because he ruined their lives. So what does he do? He goes down to the record room and looks at all the crap he has been signing away at.
Should have listened to the bird.
He confronts Cooper, but our swarthy FBI agent explains all those bonuses he gave him where actually Fred embezzling from the company.
For a children’s movie, it is really bogged down with white-collar crime crap. No wonder it bombed.
Brown: Did it bug you as much as it did me that when Fred tries to go undercover with the former quarry workers that his disguise is dressing like a Hasidic Jew?
Froemming: He was “Weird” Al in the “Amish Paradise” video!
Brown: Good call.
Fred’s disguise doesn’t work and he is run to the center of town. As the group sets him up to be hanged, here comes Barney in a Sno-Cone truck (playing “The Jetsons” tone. UGGGGGGGH) trying to profit from a lynching. Sounds about right for this movie.
Barney tells the crowd that this wouldn’t have happened had he not swapped tests with Fred… so he gets a noose around his neck as well.
Froemming: Bedrock is looking a lot like Charlottesville here. Just missing the MAGA hats.
Wilma and Betty make amends and decide to steal Korman-bird because he knows all, like a weird-ass looking Yoda for this movie. And they crash through the crowd in a car to save Fred and Barney.
Stray observation: Nobody is pedaling these vehicles with their feet most of the time. This is a giant middle finger to cartoon purists.
Brown: This movie’s existence is a giant middle finger to life.
With Korman-bird in tow, Betty and Wilma prove Fred’s innocence to the lynch mob and now comes a scheme to get back at Cliff before he leaves town with the money (shells, whatever) and leaves nothing but a defective machine that breaks rocks.
Holy (REDACTED), it just dawned on me that Cliff is using the plot from the monorail episode of “The Simpsons.” You know, without a catchy tune.
Froemming: I’d rather be watching a movie about Ogdenville.
Cooper, now knowing he is in trouble, kidnaps Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm and ransoms them for Korman-bird. He arranges a meet-up at the rock pit to exchange the bird for the children.
CALL THE (REDACTED) COPS FRED!
Brown: But we wouldn’t get a wacky rescue scene and unneeded flirting between Fred and Ms. Stone. I’m glad that Halle Berry won an Oscar. It was her penance for having to be in this garbage.
So yeah, Barney saves the kids and Fred MURDERS Cliff after a load of cement pours on the guy and turns him into carbonite Han Solo.
Brown: And, he’s rewarded for this because Fred apparently invented concrete. Mr. Slate offers this murderer another promotion. You know, because he didn’t deserve the first one. But, Fred turns it down because he’d rather be one of the boys in the quarry. And, he’s rich in love.
I need this. Right now.
Ahh, I feel better.
Froemming: Why don’t we peddle our rock cars to recommendations.
Brown: I’ll get right to it after I get off my Flintstones phone.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: I’d rather be Sisyphus endlessly pushing a boulder up a mountain than watch these rockheads again. Hell no.