Brian Levant

Brian Levant

In the 1990s Levant ventured into features with the formulaic sequel "Problem Child 2" (1991). He again explored family chaos with the surprise hit "Beethoven" (1992), a sort of "problem dog" feature sitcom which starred Charles Grodin coping with the slobbering antics of a Saint Bernard. After that success Levant signed on to helm a surefire hit, "The Flintstones" (1994), a live-action version of America's favorite "Modern Stone-Age Family." True to form, Levant produced what was little more than a nostalgic recreation of the original series. It was, however, an accurate, affectionate rendition, boasting a handsome production design, an abundance of in-jokes and highly animated performances from stars John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins and Rosie O'Donnell. After executive producing the TV sequel "Problem Child 3: Junior in Love" (NBC, 1995), Levant stumbled a bit with his next feature outing as director, "Jingle All the Way" (1996), a thin Christmas yarn starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a workaholic father who must overcome a variety of obstacles to procure the Turbo Man toy desired by his son. He co-scripted (with Lon Diamond) the feature "Leave It to Beaver" (1997), which neither paid appropriate homage to nor effectively parodied the classic TV comedy, although Ken Osmond (the original "bad boy" Eddie Haskell) had a very funny cameo as young Eddie's equally sleazy father. Levant then returned to another franchise with "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" (2000), a prequel showing the origins of the clan. The cast from the 1994 original was out, replaced by Brit Mark Addy as Fred, Kristen Johnson as Wilma, Stephen Baldwin as Barney and Jane Krakowski as Betty, with Joan Collins and Harvey Korman featured as Wilma's parents. He also executive produced, scripted and helmed "Father Can't Cope" (2000), a Fox pilot starring Scott Bakula.Levant followed "The Flintstones" win another surprise hit with "Snow Dogs," a family-friendly adventure starring fallen Oscar winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. and a troupe of Alaskan Huskies. A lame plot and constant mugging courtesy of Gooding did nothing to thwart audiences from flocking theaters. The director scored yet another hit with "Are We There Yet?," a light-hearted family comedy starring former gangsta rapper Ice Cube as a smooth player who vies for a date with a single mom (Nia Long) by taking her two bratty kids on a road trip to Vancouver to see her. Despite lackluster reviews, the movie opened number one at the box office.