If you’ve been following things that are extremely relevant to my interests, you’ll know that this week marked the release of The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown! We’ve shared the trailer and a clip, but I now own it on DVD and thought I’d write up a review. It’s in Best and Worst format, by request. No, I have never kissed a girl, I don’t know why you’d ask me that
Anyway, I sat down with the film and really drank it in, and here’s what I thought.
Best: It’s Actually A Scathing Commentary On What It’s Like To Promote Pro Wrestling
If you watched WWE and Hanna-Barbera’s first collaboration, Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery, you’ll know what I expected. Cartoon characters do their thing, interact with a bunch of WWE Superstars on the vaguest-possible terms and a small amount of wrestling happens to justify it. When Scooby-Doo meets Batman, you expect a Scooby-Doo episode with Batman in it. You don’t expect a bad-ass episode of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ about a talking dog that solves mysteries.
Surprisingly — unbelievably, even — Stone Age Smackdown goes beyond a regular episode of The Flintstones and becomes a biting satire of pro wrestling promotion. Fred Flintstone wants to take his family on vacation but f*cks up at his shoot job, so he’s out of money. The next night he finds himself at a charity carnival watching his neighbor Barney be the biggest carny in the world and giving people the chance to step into a homemade ring and fight a dinosaur/kangaroo hybrid in boxing gloves. People get knocked out and it draws a crowd, which gets the attention of local tough CM Punk-Rock. Punk gets in with the Hopparoo and verbally berates him, causing Barney to get in the ring and get between them. HIJINX occur, Punk jobs to Barney Rubble and Fred realizes there’s money to be made in making weird people fight.
He goes around town looking for talent and forms FFE, Fred Flintstone Entertainment. He has no idea what he’s doing and promotes a small show that makes him a little money and garners critical acclaim. He’s got enough to go on vacation and everybody’s happy, but his ego kicks in, and he decides to blow the money on fancy clothes and bigger, crazier shows. He stops listening to the talent, orders them to do things they don’t want to do and buries Barney for being too popular. When he realizes he’s screwed it up beyond repair, he sells out to Vince McMahon.
Fred Flintstone is straight up explaining the life cycle of a wrestling promotion in a 52-minute cartoon for babies.
Best: It’s Also A Commentary On The Convention Scene
During the Charity Carnival, there’s a short scene where ersatz Flintstones Nikki and Brie Bella have set up a “kissing booth” and are charging 100 clams for like five seconds of interaction. Their line is like 20 thirsty dudes in cosplay. They’re from the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes but they’re wearing furry hats with horns, so go with me here.
That’s the convention scene, isn’t it? Wrestlers sit at a booth and charge you $50 a body to stand near you for a second. If you’ve ever met like, Christy Hemme at a convention you’ve seen her pose for photos like she’s John Lennon on the cover of Rolling Stone. And hey, don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. As a stegosaurus moonlighting as a food processor might say, “it’s a living.”
Worst: The Lazy Flintstones Names
Okay, so, if you watched the old version of The Flintstones you’ll remember that celebrity guests get stone-related pun names. Perry Mason became “Perry Masonry,” Cary Grant became “Cary Granite,” Tony Curtis became “Stony Curtis” and so on. They weren’t all brilliant, but there was a small amount of effort put into coming up with them.
The modern version of the Flintstones mails it in so hard it’s insulting. There is no effort put into it whatsoever, so John Cena just becomes “John Cena-Stone.” You didn’t even change his name, you just tacked a “Stone” onto the end. You can’t just add syllables. Mark Henry and the Bellas become Marble Henry and the Boulders, because they have M and B in their names. CM Punk becomes CM Punk-Rock which is almost a joke, but misses the “CM stands for Cave Man” joke a 10-year old could’ve alley-ooped. Oh, guess what The Undertaker’s Flintstones name is? THE UNDERTAKER.
No Rock Lesnar, Cold Stone Steve Austin or Heath Slate to be found. Outsource this next time, man, I’ll come up with 50 garbage Flintstones names in like five minutes. KOFI KINGSTONE.
Best: It Accurately Predicts CM Punk’s Career
They got really lucky they picked CM Punk as the bad guy who disrespects the wrestling business and gets beaten up by everybody. If they’d put Dean Ambrosia in this spot he might have to worry about everybody seeing him gets his ass beat by a child-sized caveman.
Seriously though, Stone Age Smackdown understands Punk. The first time we see him, he’s stepping into a shootfighting ring with no experience and no training, runs his mouth and causes a bunch of arguments, then gets beaten up. That’s perfect, right? They only way they could’ve gotten it more right is if his cave-person wife had lost interest in whatever she was doing.
In the wrestling scenes Punk does well, but gets beaten and literally thrown out of the business by (you guessed it) John Cena.
Best: It Accurately Predicts Mark Henry’s Career
Or acknowledges it, I guess. Henry plays second-fiddle the entire movie, and when he tries to get involved, he immediately gets hurt.
Worst: It Accurately Predicts Daniel Bryan’s Career
Bryan appears early on and has a great scene. He’s manipulated by John Cena, however, and is the only WWE Superstar in the movie to not appear on the card at the end. Whoops! Maybe next year, Daniel Bry-rock!
Best: It Just Gets WWE
That’s the best thing I can say about the movie. It’s a harmless kids thing that accidentally (or subversively) nails WWE in a way few other things have. Aside from the story about promoting wrestling, there’s a scene in the middle where Barney ends up fighting the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell, and it’s full of dangerous cage spots and people climbing to the top for no reason. Barney has Taker pinned, but gets distracted by Betty on the outside. That allows Taker to come back from out of nowhere with a rollup and beat him. I swear to God. This may be the definitive WWE film.
Worst: Barney’s Voice, Though
Seriously, what were they going for? They could’ve had a dog bark every time Barney opened his mouth and it’d sound more like Mel Blanc.