Hanna-Barbera (1987), Warner Archive (June 14, 2011), 1 disc, 92 mins, 4:3 ratio, Dolby Digital 1.0, Not Rated, Retail: $19.95
Hanna-Barbera’s two most famous families meet in a time travel opus that sees them inhabit each other’s time, both together and separately.
The Sweatbox Review:
The very title addresses a Hanna-Barbera fan’s greatest desire (even if it was a subconscious one)— to see their two best-known family franchises come together in a movie. Seriously, who couldn’t be excited about the prospect of the Stone Age Flintstones being confronted by the far future wizardry of the Jetsons? The idea reeks of genius, I tell you. So, when Hanna-Barbera was coming up with ideas for their Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 syndicated movies to be distributed in the late 1980s, this storyline seems like a perfect project. It was the second one to air, following Yogi’s Great Escape.
And what, exactly, would one expect? Well, such a movie would have to follow a certain formula, involving being introduced to each family in their own time, then have the families come together in one time, then they’d have to switch time periods, then ultimately both end up in the opposite time period in which they first met, before all going home again. And that is exactly what this movie delivers. Practically every beat of the plot is precisely where you would expect it, with the only surprises being in the details, and in what gags get forced in during the proceedings. I may sound critical of the whole enterprise, but on the contrary— sometimes with things like this, you want what you want, and don’t necessarily need much else other than being moderately entertained.
To be more specific about the plot, there are two storylines— one past, one future— that converge. In the Space Age, George Jetson is harangued by his boss Mr. Spacely to find out how his competitor Cogswell is stealing all his ideas for his company. George being George, he somehow gets implicated in the industrial espionage, despite the fact that the real culprit is none other than his work computer R.U.D.I., who has been led astray by Cogswell’s sexy lady computer. Meanwhile (more or less), Fred Flintstone is conniving about how to afford the vacation that Wilma is demanding. He naturally ropes pal Barney Rubble (whose wife Betty also wants the nice vacation) to go along with a scheme that would see them miss work at the rock quarry so that they can gamble at the Water Buffalo Lodge. This is already a horrible idea, but things get worse when they find out that their boss Mr. Slate is at the poker game! Soon enough, Fred is in a moustache, and he has Barney in drag, in an attempt to fool Mr. Slate. It all goes even worse than you could imagine, and the inevitable happens— they lose their jobs, just as George’s job is in jeopardy in the future.
These are typical set-ups for each show, but it’s fun to see them compared and contrasted. Though the two programs are often compared, they have very different main characters. Fred is a braggart whose bravado gets him in trouble, while George is just a likeable sap. The comparisons naturally get easier in the next phase of the film, with the plot being driven by George’s boy Elroy inventing a time machine. Again, this is pretty much the exact plot point one would expect, but that’s still okay. Due to a mishap (which is unfortunately muddled by an obvious animation mistake), Elroy accidentally takes his family into the distant past, where they end up in a forest where the Flintstones and Rubbles are taking a very cheap vacation.
Once they get past some extremely tentative attempts to meet and greet, the two families become fast friends. Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson in particular enjoy complimenting each other on their fashions. As you could guess, however, Fred simply sees another friend to exploit, as he marvels at George’s “magical” bag of tricks from the future, such as his rocket pack and antigravity boots. And here the fun begins, with Fred manipulating George into trying to help him get his job back, while Elroy attempts to fix the time machine.
Fred’s plans never work, of course, and things are further complicated by what’s happening in the future. Rosie the Robot and the Jetson’s building superintendent work towards retrieving the Jetsons from the past (even as Mr. Spacely searches for George in vain), and their machinations (say it with me now) result in the retrieving of the wrong family. Now, with the Flintstones and the Rubbles in the future, and the Jetsons stuck in the past, various family members cope in their own ways. Fred never stops conniving, achieving some measure of celebrity in the future, while still coming into conflict with Barney, whose good-natured attitude takes him farther than Fred’s overeager manipulations. The Jetsons have a bit more trouble initially, but daughter Judy finds a boy to crush on, and eventually George also finds great success, becoming quite rich. The riches end up ruining the family (the most contrived part of the plot so far), and just as their storyline comes to an end in the past— sure enough, they hop back to the future, where the whole Spacely vs. Cogswell plot gets resolved.
Now, is that a story or what! I tell you, it practically writes itself, doesn’t it? But, the originality or unpredictability of the plot is not really the point, is it? This movie is what it had to be, story-wise, so the only remaining issue is how entertaining it ends up being. Thankfully, it holds together well for the most part. Having gown up with these characters, I’ve lost most of my objectivity when it comes to such projects, as I adored both of the original programs. This movie delivers what I wanted, setting up multiple interactions that are simply fun to see. Fred using George as his tool is the highlight, but it’s also great to see Fed and George line up against each other’s bosses, their pets Astro and Dino mix it up, and of course seeing each family adjust to a new time period. It’s not all comedy gold, but I had a smile on my face more often than not. The Jetsons-get-rich storyline is the weakest part of the movie, and a scene with future versions of Johnny Carson and Joan Rivers dates the film badly, but other than that, every other scene delivers.
Is This Thing Loaded?
Nope. Nothing to see here. Nice enough menu for an Archive release, though.
The playful cover art well describes the contents of this movie. The standard black keepcase contains the single disc, with no insert. Warner Archive has gotten quite good with their packaging, with nothing to really set this apart from a retail release, other than the disc being a DVD-ROM.
Ink And Paint:
This title may not have been officially remastered, but it didn’t really need it. Imperfections are mostly original to the camera negative, including infrequent smudge marks, but overall it’s a pretty clean looking picture, with even dust not being much of an issue. Compression work is very good, with very minimal aliasing seen. Colors are bright and stable. The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones is presented in its original 4:3 ratio.
The English mono sound can’t impress, but it’s as good as it’s going to get. There are no other language or subtitle choices.
I should mention here that most of the original voices appear, with Henry Corden of course appearing rather than Fred’s original Alan Reed (as Corden had taken Fred over years earlier, following Reed’s passing). The most glaring change is with Betty, as we get a high-pitched, almost nasal Julie McWhirter, who sounds very little like either Bea Benedaret or Gerry Johnson.
The execution lives up to its promise, with The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones managing to hit all the expected story beats and still tell an entertaining tale. Aside from not having Pebbles and Bamm Bamm in it, the movie offers up everything you could want, and does it in style. Anyone who has ever loved these shows should get a kick out of it, so long as you don’t expect grand theatre. The script actually manages to be reasonably funny, and the plot is constructed much better than some of the others in the Superstars 10 series, even if it is somewhat predictable in an enjoyable, inevitable way. It kept me grinning as a grown-up fan, and should do the same for kids who have had any previous exposure to the characters.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?
The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones may be ordered directly from Warner Archive.