A scene from 'The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas'
Courtesy Photo
*** stars 100 minutes | Rated: PG
Opened: Friday, April 28, 2000
Directed by Brian Levant

Starring Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Kristen Johnston, Jane Krakowski, Thomas Gibson, Alan Cumming, Harvey Korman & Joan Collins


Won't seem as laugh-out-loud funny as it did in theaters (to me anyway), but should entertain the kids as a rental.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 09/26/2000


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Super screwball prequel features the early romances of Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty

By Rob Blackwelder

"The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" is one unapologetic goofball of a movie. It makes no pretense of brains or decorum. It's dumb, screwy and proud. Yabba dabba doo!

A prequel to 1994's live-action "Flintstones" feature, it stars Mark Addy from "The Full Monty" as Fred and Stephen Baldwin's Barney (playing him dumb as a box of rocks and obviously enjoying it no end) in their younger days when they were courting Wilma and Betty (Kristen Johnston and Jane Krakowski).

The only thing really resembling plot revolves around the fact that Wilma is a down-to-earth debutante who would rather go bowling than to a fancy dress ball -- an attitude greeted with much high-hattedness when she brings Fred around to meet her parents.

Harvey Korman is Col. Slaghoople, her nutcase dad and Joan Collins has traded in her big-hair dignity to take some very funny pratfalls as her snooty mom. And then there's Chip Rockefeller (William Gibson from "Dharma and Greg"), the arrogant, lantern-jawed high society playboy who has always had designs on Wilma and is not about to lose her to a quarry worker.

In a scheme to steal her back, Chip invites Fred and friends to the opening of his new casino in the resort town of Rock Vegas, where romantic misunderstandings, gambling debts and general mischief threaten to derail Fred and Barney's already clumsy courting rituals.

Directed by Brian Levant -- responsible for the disappointing first "Flintstones" movie and even bigger disasters like "Jingle All the Way" -- "Viva Rock Vegas" is elementary and unoriginal, low-brow and wildly flawed. But, hey, we're not talking about a Woody Allen comedy here. We're talking about dinosaur farts and Stoogey slapstick, and frankly it had me grinning ear-to-ear when I wasn't rolling in the aisles.

The prehistoric production design and costumes are aces. The movie starts funny and stays funny because it's jam-packed with chuckle-worthy incidentals ("See the 40-year-old man!" cries a carnival barker) and unmistakably cartoony plot developments (Chip changes Fred's luck at the craps table by throwing a huge switch on the wall of his office from "WIN" to "LOSE"). But the best thing about this revisited "Flintstones" flick is that the casting is just sublime.

Although it takes a couple scenes to adjust to Addy's and Baldwin's uncanny mastery of their character's voices, these two make a much better Fred and Barney than John Goodman and Rick Moranis did six years ago.

Kristen Johnston, while conspicuously un-dainty, is a physical comedy queen who turns Wilma into a much zanier character than she's ever been before. Jane Krakowski is bright-eyed and absolutely effervescent as Betty (and she has the giggle down pat) -- who it turns out was a roller-skating waitress and a wicked flirt before becoming Mrs. Rubble.

Baldwin and Krakowski swipe the spotlight from Addy and Johnston several times as they yuk-yuk and giggle-giggle through their giddy romance, but the show-stopper in "Rock Vegas" is the incomparable Alan Cumming ("Titus," "Emma," "GoldenEye") playing a dual role as the Great Gazoo -- remember that wise-cracking diminutive alien that only Fred can see? -- and a pouty rock 'n' roll rooster named Mick Jagged, who puts the moves on Betty. Seeing him sissy-fight with Baldwin has had me in stitches.

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