Scooby-Doo. Your name means Scooby-poop.
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is directed by Raja Gosnell and is the sequel to 2002's Scooby-Doo. Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard, and Neil Fanning all return to reprise their roles from the first film. Newcomers to the cast include Seth Green, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Boyle, and Alicia Silverstone.
I have special affection for the 2002 live action Scooby-Doo, but only because it is a film that I watched at a young age and found myself enjoying quite a bit. But despite the power of childhood nostalgia, viewing that film again many years later was not the most comfortable experience I've ever had sitting in my chair and watching my television screen. My eyes were much more open to the hideous CGI effects and the awkward sexual references that hampered the film. At the end of the day, it's a film that deserves my hatred. However, I could not stir up hatred for the film, because...childhood memories.
No such merciful behavior for the sequel: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, another film that somehow became a fine childhood memory of mine, though perhaps not as vivid of one as was Scooby-Doo. I was not the most avid Scooby-Doo fan back in the day; me getting the privilege of sitting through not one but two(!) live-action Scooby-Doo movies could not have been anything more than sheer, utter coincidence. And re-watching Scooby-Doo 2 years later was also an uncomfortable experience, but even more uncomfortable than sitting through Scooby-Doo. While Scooby-Doo 2 doesn't suffer from the exact same set of problems as Scooby-Doo, it does bring along some baggage from its predecessor and adds that baggage to a new host of issues.
The story of Scooby-Doo 2 makes no mention of any events that happened in the previous film, leaving us with no idea of how much time has passed between the two films, as well as making it entirely possible for someone to skip over the first film and not be confused at all by what's going on. I haven't even started talking about the actual plot and I've already thrown into question this movie's nature as a sequel. Zoinks.
Okay, so, Scooby-Doo 2 begins with Mystery Inc. attending the opening of a monster exhibition at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum, where monster costumes from their past mysteries are put on display. The exhibition is interrupted, however, by the arrival of a masked figure named - you'll love this - Evil Masked Figure, who steals two of the costumes with the help of the living Pterodactyl Ghost. The gang's reputation takes a hit due to the incident, mostly because of the ridicule from journalist Heather Jasper Howe (Alicia Silverstone). They suspect that an old enemy is the culprit behind the museum robbery. One person they suspect is Jeremiah Wickles (Peter Boyle), who formerly portrayed the Black Knight Ghost. The gang sneaks into Wickles' mansion and discover a book that gives instructions on how to create monsters. As Fred, Daphne, and Velma work on the mystery, Shaggy and Scooby overhear how the two of them have a bad habit of messing up every operation. Shaggy and Scooby decide to better themselves and start acting like real detectives. Meanwhile, Velma finds herself combating intimate feelings for the Coolsonian Criminology Museum's curator, Patrick Wisely (Seth Green).
Here's the thing: I have no idea what this movie is supposed to be. Is it supposed to be another helping of harmless chow for hardcore Scooby fans and all the oblivious children who decide to watch this? Is is supposed to be a closer look at how and why Shaggy and Scooby deserve to be a part of Mystery Inc.? Or is the movie supposed to be an homage to the monsters from the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! TV show of the late 60's and early 70's? Scooby-Doo 2 desperately tries to juggle all of these ambitions and sadly tries to do so with an onslaught of lame jokes, more awful CGI effects, and an overall mystery so vapid and so predictable, you could predict every major beat of this movie well before each beat happens.
- Probably the best thing I can say about Scooby-Doo 2 is that it shows some faithfulness to its source material, with several of the monsters bound to be recognized by those who ever watched enough episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. The gang mentions at the start of the film how the Black Knight Ghost was their first mystery, which is true since the first episode of the TV show was about a black knight's armor coming to life. Other monsters like Miner 49er and the Tar Monster are here as well, and it is pretty cool to see all of the monsters together in one place. Too bad a lot of the monsters look like the product of a CGI novice trying to make dues with a software that he/she is opening up for the first time. They're not as horrific-looking as the demons from the first film, but they still look like crap.
- There are few specific examples of the awful special effects that I MUST discuss in some length. The absolute worst stretch of effects in the entire movie is a scene in which Shaggy and Scooby come across some kind of laboratory, and Scooby discovers a refrigerator that contains many different colored potions. Scooby, thinking one of the yellow-colored potions is lemonade, drinks one, and sprouts tentacles, turning into some dog-squid hybrid and becoming an even uglier CGI specimen than he already was. Oh, but that's not the worst of it. Shaggy joins in on the action, and he develops a hot chick's body after drinking one of the potions. Now it's quite obvious that a body double (Nazanin Afshin-Jam, credited as Shaggy Chick) is used for this scene, but my God! Shaggy's head! It looks like 2002's absolute worst Photoshop effect. Shaggy's head doesn't even look like it's properly attached to his chick body, being placed on the chick body like someone's head on someone else's body in one of those head swap videos you may find on the Internet somewhere. You may not notice it right away, but I guarantee you, once you see how incomplete the effect looks, you cannot un-see it. And as for Scooby-Doo, he sometimes looks worse in this movie than he did in the previous one. CGI is always so convincing isn't it?
- Scooby-Doo 2 has one of the easiest mysteries to figure out of the entire library of Scooby-Doo mysteries. Seriously, you can guess who the main villain is not even ten minutes into the film, the screenplay not being at all careful, with constant dialogue from the main villain that screams, "I'm the one who did it! It is so obviously me! My gosh, how have you not yet figured out that I was the one who is behind all this?" The movie could have salvaged itself a little bit had the mystery been more creative and fun. That way, we could walk out thinking to ourselves, "well, the mystery was no surprise, but at least it was fun to see how it played out." But instead, we have to pray and hope for a good laugh, because anything resembling suspense is non-existent throughout the film's 92 minutes. Speaking of good laughs, I am sorry to say, but there are very few of those here.
The most important question of all, however: will Scooby-Doo 2 entertain young children, while keeping their parents from wanting to claw their eyes out? The answer, dear reader, I have to say is yes. As hideous as the CGI Scooby looks sometimes, it's not going to stop little kids from laughing and laughing at Scooby's goofy voice and the barrage of cartoon-ish sound effects that come whenever Scooby gets whacked and flung around. And though the movie isn't funny per se, there are at least some lines that I think adults will get a chuckle or two out of, but that's all. The gathering of famous monsters from the TV show are likely to please hardcore Scooby fans, but with the other host of problems on display, this movie is a critic's worst nightmare. The CGI? Horrible. The mystery? Incredibly predictable. But despite anything else you'd want to harp on, I can't deny that the movie does its job of pleasing the family. I say that, speaking from experience. Revisiting these Scooby-Doo films years later did make wonder one thing though: whoever said family and children's film can get a pass for awful special effects and bad writing?
Recommend? Only for young children who love and adore Scooby-Doo
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: