Well folks, this week’s Penny Candy is a tad different. I was going to talk about Fastlane’s head-scratching booking decisions, and Raw’s clear middle finger to the audience, but it would honestly just end up being 10 or 11 paragraphs of abstract swearing.
So instead I decided to let WWE’s stupid decisions frustrate me in a different way and I watched The Flintstones & WWE’s Stone-Age Smackdown last night so none of you have to.
First of all, let it be noted that I DO recommend watching last fall’s Scooby Doo/WWE crossover. THAT was a fun movie. Given Scooby’s history of weird random celebrity team-ups, the plot of WWE having it’s own tourism city full of stores and their own arena was fun, surprisingly well-written for how horrible it could have been, and was very entertaining. The Scooby crossover didn’t take itself too seriously and it actually had lighthearted fun with the over the top nature of both properties.
Plus it had Sin Cara communicating through interpretive Lucha Dance. That alone is worth the rental.
THIS movie? Not so much.
First of all, unlike Scooby Doo, which had a show on TV as recently as last spring and is pumping out at least one straight to DVD movie every year, the Flintstones has no real popular culture presence anymore. The last time they were on TV with their own series was the abysmal Flintstones Kids in 1987. Their last feature was a forgettable TV movie in 2001. The target age group for this movie has NO bloody clue who or what the Flintstones are outside of their morning vitamins or cereal, or that weird old cartoon they ignore in reruns. While Scooby has stayed current and kept churning out fun silly romps on DVD, and had the truly awesome Mystery INC show on TV last year, the Flintstones have been largely forgotten by the remnants of Hanna Barbera that now work for Warner Brothers.
So while the tone and plot of this movie is clearly aimed at kids, kids in this era have no real familiarity or fondness for the property to drive sales.
So therefore the only real audience for this movie is WWE fans and nostalgic older viewers like me who actually DO remember the Flintstones with some fondness. And that’s it’s first mistake.
Scooby’s Wrestlemania Mystery used it’s WWE guest stars properly. They had a valid-in-plot reason to be part of the story and everyone they used fit the story. Their parts made sense, and young WWE fans watching got to see the people they came to see. Stone-Age Smackdown’s WWE Guest stars are underused and just kinda there. Their presence and whole reason for being in the movie just feels forced and tacked on. Wrestlemania Mystery felt light-hearted and fun. Stoneage Smackdown feels like a cheap cash-grab that can’t figure out who it’s audience is.
First of all, the movie doesn’t really do anything new. It just recycles every
tired classic Flintstones gag that were dated and old before the original series even left the air. Second, like most attempts at reviving the Flintstones, it fails to connect because it forgets it’s original audience was adult Honeymooners fans. Flintstones was NEVER a kid’s cartoon. Like the Simpsons, the original run aired in primetime and targeted a grown-up audience. Most of the humour in the Flintstones went over children’s heads.
Secondly, it fails to realize just how dated and uncomfortable a lot of that humour is. Most people these days don’t enjoy depictions of animal cruelty, even in a cartoon, and what a 1950’s audience found hilarious in the egregious physical abuse that animals take in the Flintstones makes a 2015 audience at best mildly uncomfortable and at worst offended by the casual abuse.
And thirdly, on the WWE front, it shows what Raw showed on Monday; that WWE really genuinely doesn’t think anyone REALLY wants to see Daniel Bryan as a star. He gets 90 seconds on screen in this movie. And that 90 seconds is John Cena making him look like an idiot. Then telling the audience with a wink to not expect to see him again. And thus we don’t. Meanwhile Mark Henry gets screentime all throughout the movie and has several lines, and he’s not even active on the roster right now. I know that the voiceover were recorded over a year ago, (they’d have had to be for CM Punk to be the villain here, or for Rey Mysterio to be a featured player when he’s currently trying to get out of his contract), but even at that point Daniel Bryan was the hottest act they had. The way he was used here is sadly very telling of just how little faith management has in him despite how over he is.
And finally, before we get to the actual plot, such as it is, I need to address the voice acting.
Some of it is good. Punk was clearly having fun chewing the scenery as Bedrock bully CM Punkrock, with his ice-cream loving softspoken sidekick Marble Henry. Henry however spent most of the movie sounding depressed to even be there. Rey Mysterio’s delivery was generic, and he could easily have just been Sin Cara again being used for actual comedy. The Undertaker was actually kind of fun to listen to, as he got to get in a few character breaking moments he’d never get on TV. The Bellas were flat and devoid of character, but as Total Divas proves that’s just how they actually sound. Vince sounds like he just read his lines in one take and left. And Cena was, well, Cena.
As for the Flintstones, the voices were very hit and miss. Jeff Bergman does a pretty spot-on Fred. The ever-amazing Tress MacNeille does a pretty close imitation of the original Wilma. Grey DeLisle, billed her under her new married name Griffin, does a passable if not enthusiastic Betty Rubble. But Kevin Michael Richardson is just utterly horrible as Barney. The only time he ever even APPROACHES a good Mel Blanc impression is when he does Barney’s laugh. Otherwise he sounds like a confused idiot. An otherwise excellent voice actor, Kevin just utterly sucks as Barney.
So the plot, if you can call it that, has Fred being a huge screw-up as usual and promising Wilma and Pebbles a vacation to Rockapulco BEFORE he has the money to pay for it, then blowing his shot at getting the money by pissing off his boss. Fred and Barney set up a ring the next day at the Lodge Brothers charity fair so people can challenge Barney’s Hopasaurus Hoppy to a boxing match. Hoppy knocks out every schmuck who hops into the ring with him, until CM Punkrock decides to be a bully and terrorizes the poor animal until it’s trembling and in tears. Barney takes offense to this and kicks Punkrock’s ass, and Fred gets dollar signs in his eyes as he sees people dropping clams in their charity bucket saying they’d pay to see that again. Fred figures he can make the vacation money if he puts on another Sports Entertainment event and charges 10 clams a head. He recruits his boss’ nephew John Cenastone to help him find a few other big bruisers, and they recruit Rey Mysterio and the Undertaker.
Fred’s first event, despite some hiccups, manages to be a success, and he’s made enough money to take his family AND the Rubbles on vacation, but as is typical, he gets greedy and hosts another event, arranging a rematch between CM Punkrock and Barney without bothering with silly details like asking Barney first. This backfires when Barney refuses, and the wrestlers bail on Fred for mistreating Barney because being mean to your friends isn’t cool. Fred has no choice but to take on Punkrock himself, which Barney, Betty and Wilma see on TV, traumatizing Pebbles as she watches her daddy get shitkicked.
Then Wilma sees the Boulder Twins kiss Fred and SHIT IS ON BITCHES.
Barney shows ups to save Fred, and Cenastone, Taker and Mysterio return to fend off Marble Henry, and Wilma runs the BellaBoulders out of the arena.
Fred decides to give his sports entertainment business to Mister McMagma in exchange for an all-expenses pain family vacation for his family and the Rubbles.
So the movie basically sucked. Everything felt forced, there were a lot of uncomfortable scenes that would probably upset young children, the humour and concept are horribly dated, and the whole thing just feels forced and cheap. Hell, the closest thing to a relevant reference in the entire thing is a throwaway American Idol joke at the end.
The animation is good, but it’s don in the Spumco style, which is just inexplicably jarring. Flintstones through a Ren & Stimpy filter is just…. not right.
Overall, if you want a fun lighthearted animated movie that combines childhood nostalgia with the fun and silliness of the WWE? Go rent Scooby’s Wrestlemania Mystery. THIS piece of cash grab crap isn’t even worth a rental. This was a soul-destroying destruction of my childhood, and it doesn’t deserve a viewing. It doesn’t even become “so bad it’s good”. There’s not even ironic unintentional comedy to enjoy here. It’s just overall unadulterated boring uncomfortable phoned in crap. F.
Hopefully by next week something at least mildly interesting has happened, like Sting explaining his motivations instead of just letting Tripsy bluster, or Taker responding to Wyatt.
We now return you to sobbing in a corner feeling like this movie is that weird uncle who might have touched your ass when you were a kid then kicked your dog.
Tags: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, hanna-barbera, John Cena, Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, The Undertaker