Scoob! Review: A cheap and bland attempt to revive an iconic classic
Although Scooby-Doo has had tons of animated home video films that have put them in damn near every kind of location possible and paired with random celebrities, I can’t remember the last time the series has ever made it to theaters – outside of the live-action movies of course. Frankly, after seeing the terrible VOD release of Return to Zombie Island last year, I was ready for a change for Mystery Incorporated and was hoping that Scoob!, a computer animated reboot for the series that’s to set up an animated Hanna-Barbera film universe, could revitalize hope in the franchise. Unfortunately, it’s only made me lose more hope as a fan.
The film gives us some origins for the Mystery Inc. gang with a lonely Shaggy (voiced by Will Forte) and a homeless Scooby-Doo (voiced by Frank Weller) meeting Fred (voiced by Zac Efron), Daphne (voiced by Amanda Seyfried), and Velma (voiced by Gina Rodriguez) on Halloween. After solving a crime within a haunted house, the then group of kids forms a bond and becomes a mystery solving team that would go on to solve mysteries into their late teen years. However, one day Shaggy and Scooby find themselves sucked into a strange battle between their childhood heroes, The Blue Falcon (voiced by Mark Wahlberg) and his trusty side-kick Dynomutt (voiced by Ken Jeong), and the villainous Dick Dastardly (voiced by Jason Isaacs). With Scooby playing a large role in Dastardly’s plans, the Mystery Inc. gang must spring into action to stop Dastardly and save Scooby from his world-ending plot.
Frankly, I didn’t even know going in that this film is meant to set up a universe of Hanna-Barbera characters, which I wouldn’t mind seeing, and now that I do, seeing some of the characters we see here makes some sense. It’s definitely interesting to see characters like Dick Dastardly and Muttley (voiced by Billy West), who are from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Races, and there’s even appearances from characters like Dee Dee Sykes (voiced by Kiersey Clemons) and Captain Caveman (voiced by Tracey Morgan) from Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. These are character in the Hanna-Barbera library that are rarely ever seen, so to see them to be brought to life on the big screen is kind of cool. However, this film has absolutely no idea on how to use them or set up a universe.
Scoob! is like if the MCU started with The Avengers and built up to this climatic crossover moment without building any of these characters individually first. The expectation of going into a Scooby-Doo movie would be that your watching the Scooby and the gang solve a mystery together throughout the whole film. That’s oddly not what happens here as Scooby and Shaggy are mostly stuck with Blue Falcon throughout the film, Fred, Daphne, and Velma are off on their own to the point where you completely forget that they’re in the movie, and there’s not a single mystery to solve. There’s nothing to engaging about the story and this is probably the least like any other Scooby-Doo things I’ve seen – and that’s not a good thing.
Boring is the word I would describe the experience of Scoob! as it’s hard to gravitate, care, or really relate to anything that’s happening because there’s very little built up behind it. The first act flies by so fast and is just the normal introduction we’ve seen a bunch of times. The world-ending plan of Dastardly easily ranks as one of the most insane and stupid plots of the entire franchise as it’s so farfetched and random that you just constantly find yourself scratching your head over it. The film jumps from place to place so rapidly and without care that you kind of just coast along with plot, but aren’t picking anything up and once you’ve reached the end, there’s nothing to feel. To for someone as big of a fan as myself, I was truly surprised to find such a hollow shell of what Scooby-Doo is and how this film can barely even tell its story and hit any kind of unique emotional beats.
It’s frankly more concerned with shoving in cheap nods and references to the original series that are so shallow and basic that it’s almost insulting. Having things like the original opening sequence, chase sequences, and nods to old characters, like The Hex Girls, can be fun, but the intentions of these nods are clear. They’re just easy things for people to point to for nostalgia’s sake and attempt to make viewers think that the people making this film care or understand the material they’re working with. In the end, it doesn’t work and there’s this small part of any of fan that will kind of hurt from seeing something so iconic be used for something so effortless. Not to mention, while all of the nostalgic nods are for older the fans, the attempts at connecting with a younger audience are kind pitiful.
While the script does spark up some funny lines that mostly held together by the well-casted all-star voices, it’s hard not to notice how the script and style is trying to get a younger audience to like the film. It’s certainly fine to trying and create a version of Mystery Inc. more fitting for a modern audience and I actually have grown to like the 3-D animation style for the characters – even if the movement and final monster look like garbage because of it. However, constantly shoving in music that doesn’t fit, like music from Tupac and Outkast, and more nuanced jokes comes off like a desperate attempt to win over younger audiences and really cheapens the experience. Frankly, most of the jokes don’t really hit anyway and it’s unfortunate to see films like this that are so desperate to create a universe of films before having one good one to start.
Scoob! not only signals another unfortunate low for the franchise, which says a lot, and likely shows that the Hanna-Barbera universe that this film was to setup isn’t getting off the ground anytime soon. Frankly, if this film was better, it could been interesting to franchises like Scooby-Doo, Johnny Quest, and maybe even The Jetsons interact together on the big screen, but for now it’s likely just going to remain a “what if”?