You have to wonder why “The Flintstones” franchise still gets forced into revivals when it’s such a strong part of animation history that’s seared into so many memories. Anyone who saw “The Flintstones” in its original run, syndication years after, or any of its various offshoots, have a distinctive view of how it should be presented. And because it paralleled its own stone-age time with our current time, it seems that fans always associate it with a more retro frame of mind. You can’t picture the golden era of “The Flintstones” without thinking about the stone-age counterparts to the celebrities who were thriving during the 1960s.
At least writers have been astute enough to realize that “The Flintstones” has enough of an independent universe where it doesn’t necessarily have to parallel our own time. The first live-action movie adaptation 20 years ago with John Goodman and Elizabeth Perkins wasn’t all that egregious in its existence. They managed to keep the spirit of the animated series intact without making too many direct references to current pop culture stars. Besides, you have to give it kudos for being slightly more timeless by hiring Elizabeth Taylor to play Wilma’s mother.
But those “Flintstones” live-action days are now a distant memory. After that first movie seemed to set the franchise off on the right foot, it later burned more heels than the Flintstone characters do stopping their prehistoric cars. All of the sequels that followed were more than a little inferior, including making them decidedly younger and mistakenly more hip in that surreal stone-age way.
Even Seth MacFarlane realized any “Flintstones” reboot has to go back to the original animation if you want to recapture any sense of magic that made the original so popular. After MacFarlane dropped his plans to do an animated “Flintstones” on Fox, you have to wonder whether he saw the reality: The modern, stone-age family is now stuck in its own time and wouldn’t work paralleling the 2010s.
Then again, it could also have a field day with some of the things the original show couldn’t touch in the 1960s.
Will Ferrell Taking on an Animated “Flintstones” Movie
Ferrell seems to have a thing for lampooning the 1960s and ’70s. While his “Bewitched” movie tanked, his “Anchorman” franchise gave the most definitive skewering of 1970s pop culture that anyone will ever need. He perhaps thinks that co-producing a new animated “Flintstones” movie can bring the same kind of lampooning, assuming he’d keep the Flintstone family in the time period where people best remember them in.
Anyone lesser would immediately place the Flintstones in a stone-age world parallel to our modern world. And because our time doesn’t even resemble an inkling to the 1960s other than occasional retro fashions, the Flintstones would have to reference the type of pop culture we have now that may not translate well into a stone-age world. After all, would playing music by MP3 file still be represented by a prehistoric bird placing its beak on a stone turntable as in the original series? Would a high-definition TV still be a giant boulder with a carved-out screen in the front?
So many of the satirical stone-age equivalents to our modern technology worked so much better from the 1960s frame of mind. It brought a real charm that made the original show so successful. And let’s not forget the voice work as perhaps the real charmers of all in making the scripts hilarious rather than flat.
With all of the above are mostly gone now, fans of “The Flintstones” may hope Ferrell does the snapshot scenario where we see The Flintstones in the time period we remember them in. This includes Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm as infants rather than teenagers as utilized in all the later incarnations. Of course, there’s also the possibility of Ferrell and company extending the famous episode where the family time-travels to the future.
Seeing The Flintstones in the real 21st century for part of the film would be more of a fun ride than realizing they live parallel to it. Once they’d find their way back to their 1960s stone-age equivalent heyday, audiences would realize that the 1960s held a specific magic for some shows that can’t be altered outside those comfort zones.