Film Review: Scoob!
Director: Tony Cervone
Warner Animation Group
Streaming on Video on Demand 5.15
The Hanna-Barbera cartoon franchise Scooby-Doo has been around since 1969 and has remained popular throughout various incarnations—quite an accomplishment when you consider it’s the same basic story every single time. There’s no question that a big part of the love the franchise is given is based as much on nostalgia as it is on an enduring level of quality. While I’ve never understood the intensity of some of the fandom, I freely admit that I loved it as a kid, and I still have a soft spot—the 2000’s movies notwithstanding, those were terrible. I don’t care if James Gunn wrote them, the only lasting impact they had on the property is that, thanks to Linda Cardellini, Velma is now the main object of most of the fan’s totally inappropriate sexual fantasies. To put it mildly, the new Warner Animation CGI version did not have a tough act to follow, cinematically speaking.
In Scoob!, we see Shaggy and Scooby meet as a boy and a puppy (respectively), leading to the first meeting of the entire Mystery, Inc. team. Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne grow up together solving mysteries through their teens years, and they are now approaching adulthood. But their greatest mystery together comes from a turn of events when they run into the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), who is trying to prevent his arch-rival, Dick Dastardly (the under-appreciated Jason Isaacs), from causing a global “dogpocalypse” by unleashing the Great Cerberus on the world.
No, this is not a great movie. But it is a very entertaining family film with a surprising number of good laughs. Will Forte shines as the voice of Shaggy (his second winning performance in an animated film, having been so memorable in April’s The Willoughbys), and the rest of the cast is quite capable, with Isaacs easily standing out with his enjoyable, hammy performance as the villain. Wahlberg is fun (I was more mixed on Tracy Morgan who felt a bit miscast as Captain Caveman), and Gina Rodriguez and Amanda Seyfriend have nice chemistry as Velma and Daphne. Zac Efron is certainly a better Fred than Freddie Prinze Jr., but he’s going through this one on cruise control compared to his last few rather memorable performances.
Some may complain that there is too much emphasis on grand adventure and not enough on mystery, but Scoob! is colorful, exciting and slick enough to entertain kids—my 4-year-old nephew was glued to it from start to finish, and he often has a hard time making it through features. The film has just enough winking cleverness aimed at grownups, and, combined with the nostalgia factor, makes it easy for them to sit through with the little ones. For me, it was hard not to go a bit easy on this one, especially because it’s the only thing that feels like a major studio release we are getting this May. Thankfully, while it follows the Trolls World Tour model of $19.99 for a rental, it’s only $24.99 to buy, which makes it a lot more palatable to parents as an entertainment expense. Scoob! is the kind of movie where it is best to keep your expectations realistic: If you were expecting genuine greatness out of this one, I really have no idea what to tell you. –Patrick Gibbs