When the first live-action film adaptation of “The Flintstones” released in 1994, most fans of the animated series recoiled at seeing it portrayed with human actors. Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that it wasn’t entertaining, and it did have potential for knockout ideas had they been allowed to be used. But once “The Flintstones” film franchise died out due to uninspired screenwriting, it allowed other films to dominate in the under-mined stone-age film genre, particularly “Ice Age” and now “The Croods.”
Unlike “Ice Age”, though, “The Croods” looks like a distant human cousin to “The Flintstones.” The only difference is that the “modern stone-age family” idea only creeps in subtly with this new familial lineup rather than having a chance to lampoon everything in our modern world. This isn’t to say that the basic concept of a brilliant caveman inventing something new couldn’t have been employed in a “Flintstones” film.
Nearly all of the ideas being used now in stone-age movies could have been employed in a “Flintstones” movie franchise. Instead, the worst Hollywood trend in remaking TV shows ensued: They initially re-used plot points from the original series. While that still worked reasonably well for the first “Flintstones” movie, they could have dug a little deeper to something more obscure had they insisted on making it familiar.
One of those obscure plots from the original show was one of the best aired toward the end of the series: The cast accidentally time travels to different eras. At one point, they’re seen jumping into the far future of the 20th century where their stone-age time only looks vaguely familiar. Imagining that as a plot point of another “Flintstones” movie would have pumped true life into one of the potential sequels.
While “The Croods” only slightly hints at the above, it now has plenty of room to explore everything else Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, et al., could have done. Yes, that even includes the potential of going through an ice age as the “Ice Age” film series has proven to lucrative success. Add to that a little original twist to open a “Flintstones” sequel: Archeologists finding the town of Bedrock during an archeological dig.
How that reportedly large bank of credited writers for the first “Flintstones” feature didn’t think of ideas within these arenas is nearly astounding.
Now it’s probably a little too late for any “Flintstones” movie to be revived with the “Ice Age” franchise and probable franchise potential for “The Croods.” Even if the aforementioned film borrows ideas from the Hanna-Barbera series, the stone-age era is still a hot property for films to explore in animation. That’s because it’s in its own separate universe where the parallels between then and now can easily be drawn up without any historical disputes.
Anything better than a “Flintstones” reboot (presumably not by Seth MacFarlane) is a sequel to the cult 1981 movie “Caveman.” That film took primitive live-action comedy to a whole new level by staying as primitive as possible.