Why I like the Flintstones movie – the first one, with John Goodman and Rick Moranis. There’s a writer’s tale in this, I promise…
I’ve seen this movie maybe four times in total. It’s the go-to of choice when I’m sick.
Now, the disclaimer is that I realize it’s a dumb movie, with a huge number of old jokes and sight gags. I get it. It’s a feature film based on a cartoon that was based on a sitcom. How old do these jokes get?
My wife asked me “How can stand to watch that thing again?”
I think the answer is actually rather easy. One of my favorite jokes in the film comes when Barney and Betty Rubble find themselves cast out, living in the wilderness. Barney can’t quite get the fire going, and mutters “great. Now I’m living like my dad.”
It’s the old story. It’s the familiar story – tell it again, daddy.
My favorite joke: A guy walks into the doctor’s office and says “I need glasses.” The guy behind the counter says “No kidding. This is a gas station.” See? You may have heard that before, but it’s funny in the retelling. It’s funny, in part because it’s familiar.
As writers, we’re always striving for the new, the over-the-edge kind of way of telling what inevitably is the same old story. The Flintstones is a buddy pic. It’s an underdog does good story. It’s an every-man story.
Every time I watch it, I enjoy the set up of the joke to come – the pig/garbage disposal barfing up Fred’s sundial watch. The RocDonald’s sign: Over 15 dozen served! Elizabeth Taylor’s “What did you ever provide for this family except shade?” It’s old stuff, but it’s comfortable, and makes me feel embraced.
Embraced? Yes, embraced by an old friend that still makes me laugh, even though I’ve heard his story a hundred times.
My wife’s question made me think about our writer’s job – what is the task except to share our vision of the world in hopes that we can bring it to light in someone else’s mind?
Perhaps part of our job is to bring the comfort of old friends to our readers’ mind. Perhaps we can share old jokes.
To quote Barney: Atta boy, Fred!