Scoob! May 16, 2020 19:58:11 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on May 16, 2020 19:58:11 GMT -5
Directed by: Tony Cervone
Directed by: Tony Cervone
As bland as most Hanna-Barbera properties continue to be when you peel back the nostalgic foil, Scoob! is not much different from the myriad of direct-to-video installments that have kept the brand alive. I would've never guessed the silver-lining in a Scooby-Doo reboot would be the pathos, which is handled with just the right amount of sweetness and sentimentality to drive home how connectable these characters have been across now three generations. If this film has any lasting impact, it should be a reminder that next time we think of the early-2000s Scooby-Doo flicks — helmed by Freddie Prinze, Jr, Matthew Lillard, and a goofy-but-memorable computer generated Scooby — we should put a bit of respect on Raja Gosnell's name.
It doesn't matter if you grew up with the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! series from the late sixties, the WB series What's New, Scooby-Doo? — a favorite of my generation — or even the newer crossover movies featuring the likes of KISS and John Cena. Scooby-Doo has etched itself in the zeitgeist of more than a couple generations for reasons that are quite obvious. It's simplicity personified as it features a likable group of misfits with starkly contrasting personalities, along with a scrappy canine, who solve silly mysteries that appeal to the base levels of intrigue, regardless of age.
In recent years, the franchise has lived on in the form of copious movies, some live-action, others mostly animated, so maybe it was time a mainstream studio took another crack at a reboot, this one helmed by Tony Cervone, a veteran director of Warner Bros. Animation. Unfortunately, the result is about as edgeless as the original cartoon series without the added benefit of nostalgia and all the characters feeling equal.
We get off to a good start, however. The opening sequence shows Scooby (voiced by veteran Frank Welker, who voiced Fred since his inception up until this film) causing mischief on the Venice boardwalk and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers (Iain Armitage young), a lonely teenager in need of a friend, crossing paths on the beach. Shaggy saves Scooby from being taken to the pound and the two become fast-friends who later team up with a trio of teens named Fred, Daphne, and Velma to solve a mystery involving a haunted house on Halloween.
Cut to present day, when the gang is all grown up: Will Forte voices Shaggy, Zac Efron fittingly voices Fred, Amanda Seyfried is Daphne, and Gina Rodriguez is Velma. The group feels confident in their plans to launch a mystery-solving service and turn to Simon Cowell of all people to fund their venture. Cowell disapproves of Shaggy and Scooby, declaring them dead-weight, leading them to storm off and get abducted by Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and Dynomutt the Dog Wonder (Ken Jeong). Falcon and Dynomutt — characters from a fellow Hanna-Barbera program — are trying to stop Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), a goofy villain from Wacky Races hellbent on world domination. Fred, Daphne, and Velma are left to try and find Shaggy and Scooby while piecing together what Dick Dastardly has up his sleeves. Also making a late second act appearance is Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan) of Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels fame, effectively allowing Scoob! to work as some kind of shared-universe picture for Hanna-Barbera.
The immediate issue is the breakup of the gang so early in the film, who have shown for decades they work best as a unified group. Seeing yet another Scooby-Doo feature segregate the antics of Shaggy and Scooby from the other three is disappointingly, especially considering this is a revival, which should be celebrating the strengths of this collective bunch. Throwing in other Hanna-Barbera characters that failed to receive even a fraction of the long-running cultural popularity of those who travel in the groovy Mystery Machine is, on the surface, quite a brilliant idea, but folks like Blue Falcon and Dynomutt never transcend their quip-laden dialog in a mostly convoluted origin story. This is Saturday Morning entertainment that's been blown up and infused with so much plot that it greatly subtracts the underlying simplicity that has made Scooby-Doo so generationally appealing.
What is left is a serviceable babysitter for young children who will undoubtedly be delighted to see characters they read in chapter books or saw on Netflix "go big," so to speak. It's too bad that due to the current state of the world, kids today won't get to see these recognizable faces transcend the small-screen and make the leap to the silver one, at least not any time soon (whispers have indicated a theatrical release could be down the road, although I'd hedge my bet on one). It's also too bad that Scoob! couldn't at least dare to be much different than the legion of franchise cheapies that preceded it in between Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
NOTE: Check out my review of Scoob! on my web-show Sleepless with Steve!
Voiced by: Will Forte, Frank Welker, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Gina Rodriguez, Jason Isaacs, Mark Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Simon Cowell, and Iain Armitage. Directed by: Tony Cervone.