Okay, let’s be honest with ourselves. Scooby Doo is not what you would consider a great achievement in the history of American popular culture. The old television shows are considered classics by definition of the Cartoon Network. But ever since I can remember, they were held up more as the standard for cliches rather than great writing. Who hasn’t referred to the ending of a bad movie as having “a Scooby Doo ending”?
The first “Scooby Doo” movie set itself up for failure, but it worked. One of the best choices made in its first trip to the big screen was to make the monsters real. After all, with modern Hollywood digital effects, this was a breeze. Then, having Scrappy Doo turn out to be the villain was an excellent nod to all of us that grew up with Scooby Doo. After all, who didn’t wish that the Mystery Machine would run over the little mutt?
I watched the cartoons in their many incarnations when I was a child. I would even consider myself to have been a fan of the show. So, I did partake in the guilty pleasure of the first film. But this new “Scooby Doo” is a different story.
What can I say about the plot, when there really isn’t much to talk about? The gang from Mystery, Inc. are guests at a museum exhibit that features the costumes of all the bad guys they’ve caught in the past. When the costumes come to life as real monsters, Scooby and the gang take the blame. Disgraced, they must track down a mad scientist that has discovered how to make these costume monsters real before it destroys the entire town.
Who said that Scooby Doo episodes ever really relied on good plots, anyway?
There seems to be a curse on the female cast members of Hanna-Barbara properties that when they make it to the big screen. It started with “The Flintstones” almost ten years ago. Most red-blooded American males always had the hots for Betty. She was always sexier than the Alice Kramden version of Wilma. However, when Steven “Spielrock” put together “The Flintstones” in 1994, he cast a bloated Rosie O’Donnell as Betty. No more sexiness here. However, he made up for this sin by casting Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma in one of her sexiest roles to date.
Similarly, when “Scooby Doo” came out two years ago, Sarah Michelle Gellar was cast as the sexy Daphne. But the cuter and sexier Linda Cardellini was cast as the bookwormy Velma. In the past two years, Cardellini has gotten sexier. She even gets to show of her “thang” in a tight red-leather outfit in the new film. Gellar, however, is looking more and more emaciated each day, showing her age before her time.
Like his off-screen wife, Freddie Prinze Jr. is looking haggard with his age. The hair and make-up department chose to give him darker hair with a Paige Davis look instead of his platinum bleach blonde look from the first film. I imagine this was because Prinze’s hair is so dark he had to bleach it daily during the production of the first film, although this is a small price to pay for his multimillion dollar salary. Even with the ascot, Prinze makes a lame Fred.
Matthew Lillard is really the only funny thing in the film. Again, he nails a perfect Shaggy impression and often steals the scenes from the now mundane CGI Scooby. There are still the covert drug references, including Shaggy spraying canned whipped cream upwards into his mouth. (Showing my age, I didn’t understand this, until a buddy of mine explained that if you don’t turn the can over to spray, you’ll get a shot of nitrous oxide. If you’re an old fart like me and don’t know this trick, you’ll think he’s just getting whipped cream.)
In probably her lamest role since Barbara Gordon in “Batman and Robin,” Alicia Silverstone has a small part as a hot-headed reporter giving flack to Mystery, Inc. The normally hysterical Seth Green goes through the motions as Patrick, Velma’s love interest. Other supporting cast member that are usually excellent that get thrown to the wolves in this show include Peter Boyle and “O Brother Where Art Thou” alum Tim Blake Nelson as mad scientists.
Little kids should like this film. But the smarter humor and in-jokes from the first are gone, which is going to lose a lot of the older audience. My 2 1/2 year old son loved it, but that was because one of the monsters was a dinosaur. Go figure.
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