A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Flintstones is the 1994 live action remake of the classic cartoon series. This version stays faithful to the original. For instance, there are plenty of scenes in which Fred is shown using his feet to operate his Stone Age car to get to work, but the gender roles and stereotypes of the original are also prominent. When Fred gets an office job, his new secretary pretends to flirt with him while whispering sexually-charged one-liners like "use me how you see fit" and 'if you want me." Fred's mother-in-law (played by Elizabeth Taylor) accuses him of being drunk. Cigarette smoking. Beer drinking at the bowling alley. Characters drink martinis out of exaggerated Stone Age martini "glasses." Some cartoonish violence and pratfalls -- Bam Bam hitting Barney in the head with a club, characters flung into canyon walls via catapults. Product placement, contemporary products or news organizations have their Stone Age equivalents. Language includes "damn," "sucks." However, it's worth noting that the theme of personal sacrifice to help one's friends is stressed throughout the movie.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Fred Flintstone is promoted to corporate executive, then framed for embezzlement in this live-action version of the popular cartoon series. Flintstone (John Goodman) and Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis) work in the rock quarries of the prehistoric town of Bedrock. Fred loans Barney money from his and Wilma's (Elizabeth Perkins) savings account so Barney and Betty (Rosie O'Donnell) can adopt a child. Meanwhile, creepy executive Cliff Vandercave plans to promote one of his quarry workers to vice president, using an aptitude test to find a suitable candidate. Fred gets the promotion, with a little help from Barney. Unfortunately, it's all a setup. Vandercave plans to frame the new VP in an embezzlement scheme, and Fred's growing egotism at this promotion causes a rift between the former best pals -- especially when Fred is forced to fire Barney. Can the two make up in time to prevent Fred from going to jail, and get Barney his job back?
Is it any good?
Live-action versions of cartoon hits should be approached with caution; if an idea works well as a cartoon, it's unlikely to have the same impact in live action, and vice versa. THE FLINTSTONES actually makes the transition reasonably smoothly, thanks to clever casting and an eclectic display of wacky creatures (computer-generated and puppets). Much of the original series' humor, faithfully recreated here, stems from the fact that the Stone Age world had primitive versions of modern conveniences. Some of these gags, however, are more grotesque when not in cartoon form, but many kids will find this outlandish humor funny.
But Barney and Betty's attempts to adopt a baby, their subsequent financial troubles, and management vs. labor subplots are too serious and at odds with the absurd tone of the rest of the movie. Nevertheless, most kids will enjoy the preposterous world of The Flintstones. The prequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, is even better for kids, retaining this movie's virtues, but eliminating the dour elements.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movie remakes and nostalgia. Why make a movie that essentially reproduces a cartoon most popular when many of today's parents were children? Do you think it's harder or easier than creating new characters, new themes, new stories? Is there an element of safety in remaking a once-popular movie or TV series?
How are women and men portrayed in this movie? How does this match both the cartoon series The Flintstones and the gender roles of the 1950s?
How does the movie use product placement? Why would it be problematic for product placement to be in a movie, especially one marketed for kids?
- In theaters: May 23, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: October 14, 1997
- Cast: John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Rosie O'Donnell
- Director: Brian Levant
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: Parental Guidance Suggested
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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