May 30, 1994 12:00 PM

John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, Rosie O’Donnell

This live-action version of the classic prime-time cartoon about a Stone Age family has enough special effects and slapstick to keep children amused. But anyone who grew up with the series will quickly get caught up (and bogged down) in point-by-point comparisons. 1. Does Goodman capture the spirit of the prehistoric, two-dimensional Fred? (Yes; he does far better by Fred than Moranis does by Barney Rubble.) 2. Rosie O’Donnell has Betty Rubble’s snigger down pat—and makes a better Betty than Perkins does a Wilma Flintstone. 3. Dino, the family pet, is still a cartoon, albeit a computer-animated one. (Shouldn’t they have found a real dinosaur for the part, some sort of large, domesticated lizard?) 4. Kyle MacLachlan, as Fred’s suavely villainous boss, looks strikingly like Rock Quarry, the TV version’s parody of Rock Hudson. 5. The B-52s add some dance-floor edginess to the old theme song, which improves it.

Ultimately, The Flintstones leaves you fidgety and dissatisfied, as if you had just spent 92 minutes taking apart a pile of pebbles, stone by stone, and then built another identical one two feel away. (PG)

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