The casting is perfect - John Goodman and Elizabeth Perkins as Fred and Wilma, Rick Moranis and Rosie O'Donnell as Barney and Betty - and the sets and special effects couldn't be more visually startling.
In fact, not since "Popeye" has a live-action movie so incredibly re-created the look, style and feel of the cartoon on which it is based.But "The Flintstones" is so silly and sophomoric, despite a few amusing bits of business, that it is recommendable only for kids - and curious "Flintstones" fanatics.
The minimal plot here has Fred being used as a dupe by Slate & Co. executive Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan) and his seductive secretary Sharon Stone (Halle Berry) in an embezzlement scheme. Fred is promoted because he's an idiot, and, of course, he signs any forms put in front of him - without reading them. So, when the crime is uncovered, Fred is the chief suspect.
Perhaps the funniest character is Wilma's mother, Fred's nasty mother-in-law, played by none other than Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor is obviously having a great time and she manages a few good chuckles.
But plot doesn't really matter here, of course. Director Brian Levant ("Beethoven," "Problem Child 2") and more than 30 screenwriters (only three are credited) have come up with what is intended as a dazzling array of sight gags and quips and throwaway one-liners. But it's a hit-and-miss affair, and after awhile, the gags become redundant in this one-joke movie.
One interesting aspect has Goodman and Moranis doing voices that occasionally resemble Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, whose seminal "Honeymooners" sitcom was the acknowledged inspiration for the "Flintstones" characters.
What's next? A big-screen version of "The Honeymooners," with Goodman as Ralph and Moranis as Norton?
Actually, that has better potential than the prospect of a "Flintstones" sequel.
"The Flintstones" is rated PG for a couple of vulgar gags (like the huge pterodactyl dropping that crushes a car) and one profanity.