For everyone who liked the 1994 live-action “Flintstones” film, beware: Everything that made it enjoyable is absent from “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas,” an unnecessary prequel in which we learn how Fred became a Jedi, and how Barney turned to the dark side.
Oh, sorry, that was a different prequel.
Anyhoo, “Viva Rock Vegas” follows the courtships of Fred (Mark Addy) and Wilma (Kristen Johnsten) and Barney (Stephen Baldwin) and Betty (Jane Krakowski). Wilma’s a socialite, being harassed by her rich mother (Joan Collins, in the part she was born to play) into marrying the rich but apparently loathsome Chip Rockefeller (Thomas Gibson).
Chip, in a transparent gesture of superficial goodwill that the foursome are somehow oblivious to, invites them to his new casino in Rock Vegas, where he tries to frame Fred and win back Wilma’s love, or something like that.
If you’ve watched the parentheses closely, you’ve observed that none of the first film’s cast is present in this one. This is too bad. Mark Addy may do a better Fred Flintstone voice — in fact, he does it admirably well, especially considering he’s a Brit — but John Goodman had so much more charisma than the forgettable Addy. Ditto for Rick Moranis as Barney, who gave the character some degree of reality and likability. Stephen Baldwin merely impersonates the famous cartoon voice without a drop of personality, like a new cast member in a lame “Saturday Night Live” sketch.
Aside from bad casting, though, the film suffers from bad humor. Rare is the gag that is not heavily telegraphed: Before a boulder falls on a man’s head, we first see him stop so that he is directly under it. When a waiter brings out an enormous cream pie, where else can it wind up but in someone’s face? And when we’re told that a dinosaur is suffering from gastro-intestinal problems, and Barney is given a huge rectal thermometer to check him out, naturally the dino is going to emit an huge, gale-force burst of flatulence. (Yes, all of that really happens in this movie. I just saw it, and I can’t believe it, either.)
About the time Fred and Barney infiltrate a Vegas stage show by dressing up as showgirls, it’s time to set down the popcorn and go.
The only real humor comes from Alan Cumming, the delightfully fey Scottish stage actor who plays the snide alien The Great Gazoo, as well as rock star Mick Jagged. Both characters are subtle and well-played, and better than the movie deserves, especially the dead-on parody of Mick Jagger. Seeing Cumming at work reminds us of how much better a mediocre movie can seem when solid actors are put to work in it, instead of the hacks we’re given here.
For the record, production values and costumes are top-notch, with impressive attention to detail.
Let’s face it, “The Flintstones” wasn’t all that funny as a TV show, and the jokes are really old by now. (Instead of someone being homeless, they’re called “caveless”!) Nothing new or clever is employed in “Viva Rock Vegas”; it’s just more of the same limp entertainment that might amuse some of the kids, but might bore them, too.
D+ (; )