Movie Review: “Scoob!”

There is no specific need for a Stargate to appear in “Scoob!,” the new Scooby-Doo based animated film that’s arrived on VOD today, but it fits into a movie which also incorporates the Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, Dick Dastardly, Simon Cowell, Ira Glass, a Laff-A-Lympics reference, and more. Although it may sound as though director Tony Cervone just threw everything he could into the movie in hopes enough would stick, the whole thing not just works, it feels considered.

With a screenplay from Adam Sztykiel and Jack C. Donaldson & Derek Elliott and Matt Lieberman, “Scoob!” has everything you want from an episode of any one of the myriad of Scooby-Doo television series from yesteryear. There’s mask-pulling and fake ghosts and people getting separated and “jinkies!” and the Mystery Machine and Scooby Snacks. Scooby and Shaggy come up with insane disguises and momentarily—and in incredibly stupid fashion—trick bad guys. It is, in short, a Scooby-Doo remix, one which, as with the live-action movies before it, recognizes the silliness of the whole idea and steers directly into the skid.

Mystery Inc. breaks up early in the goings-on here as Simon Cowell (voiced by himself, naturally) is considering investing in the group but feels as though Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby (Frank Welker) don’t bring anything to the table (besides an appetite). There is no fear on the audience’s part that the group will stay split and soon enough Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and Velma (Gina Rodriguez) are tracking their buds down once a police report comes in indicating the two doofuses might be in trouble.

It would take too long and be too silly if I were to go into the specifics of what happens, but Scooby and Shaggy team-up with the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), and Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) as they try to foil a plan from Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) to open the Underworld. It’s almost too silly to have written the sentence, but there it is.

Watching “Scoob!” no one is going to mistake the animation for something produced by Pixar, but it’s light and it’s colorful and it’s super fun. Cervone and the writers have a great handle on the core of what makes Scooby-Doo work, even when it’s downright foolish. So we get that great friendship between Scooby and Shaggy and we get the teamwork that makes Daphne, Velma, and Fred into a powerful triumvirate each of whom may not always be comfortable with their given role, but who also know exactly why their strengths play into those roles.

The movie starts with a wonderful introduction to the characters, including their first meeting and their first mystery. It is a perfect entry point for this version of the story, giving us the team and their facets while being funny and offering up a whole lot of classic Scooby elements.

Despite running slightly more than 90 minutes, the movie takes the time to look at the secondary figures in the film, like Blue Falcon, and turn the characters into something more than just momentary amusements. They are amusing, certainly, but they’re more than that. They become versions of the characters we want to learn more about.

Plus, while I caught a whole bunch of references to things not explored in this film (some of which are noted above), there are assuredly a lot more that I didn’t get. “Scoob!” feels like a full world, one with history (and not just due to a great appearance by Captain Caveman).

What the movie also cannot escape is a slightly episodic feel. Perhaps it is baked into the foregone conclusions of what is going to take place or the momentary appearances of various Hanna-Barbera elements or its own acknowledgment that this is, essentially, just another case for Mystery, Inc. (even if a slightly larger one), but there’s not very much weight to it all. “Scoob!” feels like a stepping off point for something bigger, the first element in a grand design which could see the return of so many wonderful characters.

That said, it’s pretty good spot to begin that jump. “Scoob!” is sure to delight new fans and those parents who used to sit down and watch the gang in the Mystery Machine back in the day. Maybe next time the Harlem Globetrotters will show up.


photo credit: Warner Bros.

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