Entertainment :: Television

A Flintstones Christmas Carol

by Phil Hall
Contributor
Wednesday Oct 24, 2007
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The idea of cavemen celebrating a holiday designed to commemorate the birth of Jesus is, on its own terms, decidedly peculiar. Even more bizarre is the notion of cavemen staging their own version of a certain Charles Dickens tale that gets retold endlessly each December.

In fairness, "A Flintstones Christmas Carol" tries to be original through a unique twist: Fred is the star of a community theater production of "A Christmas Carol" and he is making himself intolerable as he tries to get his lines memorized. This straight-to-DVD effort will offer some mild laughs for anyone who has ever been involved in the ultimate show biz nightmare: a small theater with big egos.

The production itself is aligned to the mood of the celebrated cartoon series, with numerous prehistoric substitutions for the Dickensian shadings (Barney Rubble’s Bob Cratchit eschews a quill pen and ledger book for a chisel and stone slate, sleighs are pulled by dinosaurs instead of horses). And there is also the occasional weak slapstick where Fred finds himself on the receiving end of mild mayhem (snow is dumped on his noggin, Wilma’s Ghost of Christmas Past flies him head-first into a wall).

But beyond that, the film actually adheres faithfully to the Dickens chestnut. This actually little sense - what’s the point of doing another animated spin on "A Christmas Carol" if it is going to cover almost all of the same tracks as the other cartoon adaptations? Oh, there is something of a subplot about Fred’s late-minute holiday shopping - but that feels like it was shoehorned into the proceedings as an afterthought.

More amusing, however, is a special feature bonus from the original Flintstones series. It is an episode where Fred gets a night job as a department store Santa Claus, and then substitutes for the ailing Saint Nick on the December 24 toy ride. That episode is everything "A Flintstones Christmas Carol" is not: funny, unapologetically rude (especially when Fred bats a softball into his new boss’s mouth), inventive and truly original. That mini-treat compensates for the stale feature film at the center of this DVD.

The episode "Christmas Flintstone" from the original Flintstones cartoon series; trailers.

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time

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