Astonishingly bright and bouncy prequel to the beloved TV series and ill-advised (or premature?) first feature film, this is a big, colorful, loud and lovely festival of a film, great for kids and norms and oldies alike. From the opening frames of a self- effacing Universal Logo (which lovable alien Gazoo refers to in a fine fourth-wall break ala GREEN ACRES), to a dinosaur cutting a humongous fart, to a magnificent carnival featuring a sensational "BrontoCoaster," to a gargantuan close-up of Kristen Johnston's incredible lips screaming, this flick is a live-action cartoon in the best sense of that over-used and underachieved term.
This great flick, for starters, is a superb, proud showcase of how far CGI fx have come in a mere, breathtaking decade. This seamless and uncannily believable mix of live action, puppets, mechanical devices and computer-generated imagery is glorious, and ironically, a far greater triumph for the fx field than a lugubrious, overpublicized misfire like, oh, let's say, TITANIC. This pic's Dino, for example, is a vastly superior being to the muddy, trembly object that smudged its way across unhappy screens in the last live-action adventure. Even cutesy fx, like cartoon hearts, and retro sound fx from the old TV series, are interwoven lovingly and deftly. There are also some wonderful and bizarre creatures from Jim Henson's Muppet Factory.
Yet this film is quite human, featuring a parade of lovable, amazing characters. The Great Gazoo, as played by Allan Cummings, is an amazing creature, lovable and queer and creepy and adorable. Fred and Barney, as played by Mark Addy and Stephen Baldwin, are endearing dum-dums done to a T. Kristen Johnstons's Wilma is both ravishing and inept, and Jane Krakowski's Betty is saucy and sweet. The entire cast, in fact, is over-drawn just perfectly.
The grandiose production design by Chris Burian-Mohr and Bradford Ricker is magnificent, grotesque, visionary, almost occult in its dizzying pastiche of myriad fashion, architectural and aesthetic styles, creating a kaleidoscopic universe which looks like a cross between a World's Fair and a genius kid's coloring book. The elaborate, wild costume design as well, by Robert Turturice, makes the whole production look like a cross between a grand hippie parade and an immense drag party.
Although structurally straightforward, Kent Beyda's editing is exciting, kinetic and engaging, allowing each bizarre scene to hang in our minds just long enough for its unique madness to sink in, and then move on, like some immense hypnotic collage, or a mad father's thrilling slide show.
The original The FLINTSTONES TV series, which was a belabored, kid- oriented ripoff of THE HONEYMOONERS, sketched out in toon form the archetypal US proletariat couple, and specialized in dishing out a slew of obvious but pardonable exaggerations and parodies of familiar bourgeois icons. This film concocts a veritable symphony of these essentially lame referential puns throughout its life, then elevates the group to the level to high kitsch art.
The soundtrack samples from rock, pop, classical and show music. Everything from primitive technology to class war is touched upon, and I can't remember a film in which such a melting pot of humanity was represented. In short, this film is cross-cultural and multi- dimensional, to say the least.
Unlike its comparatively tepid inspiration, VIVA LAS VEGAS, VRV is, as well as stunning fantasy and lively comedy, an all-out, no-holds barred rock musical. The high-energy production-numbers, as well as the profound sense of the whole thing being a giant party for all creatures great and small, all folks nerdy and bizarre, reminds me alot of another cinematic lightning rod, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.
And guileless entertainment aside, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Beneath the deceptively elementary plotline and all the pretty colors, one intuits there are at least three features worth of cultural, aesthetic and sociological information embedded in this lush, giddy, remarkable film. This is a film to study and enjoy and cherish over and over again. Oh yeh, this is definitely the first bonafide, over-the-top, pop-culture masterpiece of the new millennium.
Review by Son of Cathode from the Internet Movie Database.