Scooby-Doo is directed by Raja Gosnell and stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson, and Isla Fisher. It is based on the Hanna-Barbera animated series of the same name.
Scooby-Dooby-Doo! Nothing else says mystery better than Mr. Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc., who have been stopping creepy, ghoulish fiends - that are actually troublemakers in costumes - for decades, with more animated series, movies, and merchandise than anyone would know what to do with. With Scooby-Doo being such a popular, long-running franchise, a live-action film seemed inevitable because there's something of an unofficial law out there stating that any and all popular, animated franchises/movies must get a live-action adaptation before the end of time. But it's not like live-action would be an impossible task for the world of Scooby-Doo. You wouldn't have to think too hard to think up some real-life depictions of Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy. Plus, the right group of costume designers and make-up artists could turn out a pretty neat looking ghost, ghoul, whatever scary creature that Mystery Inc. would be up against.
Now Scooby-Doo, on the other hand? Well, an actual, real-life dog wouldn't fly, because Scooby-Doo himself is very cartoon-y: goofy facial expressions, an equally goofy voice, and taking on a style of comedy that I think you can say is slapstick, but I don't know. I've never found Scooby-Doo to give us the kind of cartoon violence you see in Tom and Jerry or the Looney Tunes shorts.
The point is, Scooby-Doo is one of those cartoon characters that I don't believe you can vividly picture in live-action, so the use of an actual dog and giving it a talking, animated mouth would only come off as awkward. Which means that Scooby-Doo will be a CGI-creation. Or does he have to be CGI? Maybe Scooby could have been done with cel and optical composition animation, like how the toons were done in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. No? Too much work involved? Fine, CGI it is...
Scooby-Doo opens with Mystery Inc. solving the Luna Ghost case at the Wow-O-Toy Factory, but not without some long-time frustrations boiling over between Fred, Daphne, and Velma. Fred frequently takes the credit for everything, with Velma frustrated that none of her ideas get any appreciation. Daphne, meanwhile, is sick and tired of getting kidnapped during each and every case. The three quit, putting an end to Mystery Inc. The End.
Okay, not really. Mystery Inc. remains disbanded for two years, until the gang is reunited when they're all invited to the Spooky Island resort, owned by Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson). The gang learns from Mondavarious that the visiting island tourists have changed into some kind of bizarre, brainwashed state. Velma, Daphne, and Fred split up, each determined to solve the mystery on their own. But when it's discovered that the island is being taken over by an army of ancient demons, the gang may have to put aside their differences and work together again.
Admittedly, Scooby-Doo is a movie that has become childhood nostalgia for me. My family and I loved watching the movie time and time again, laughing at all of Scooby's silly antics. But watching the movie as an adult, many years later? I can only describe the experience as strange. I didn't laugh anywhere near as much as I did when I saw the film at a younger age, and I could not for the life of me get past some of the egregious wrongs that any young child is likely to ignore while watching the movie.
- What can I say about Scooby-Doo that can be safely categorized under, "Nice Things To Say"? Here's something I can say: The movie is undoubtedly well-casted. Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard all certainly look their respective parts, with Lillard giving a real stand-out performance as Shaggy. Lillard has all of Shaggy's "Like..." and "Zoinks!" expressions down pat, and he brings the right kind of energy for a character like Shaggy that is as goofy as he is lovable. The one weak link in terms of acting is Freddie Prinze Jr., who looks like he wasn't given much direction from Raja Gosnell and is just sort of going with the flow.
- Now, more about that CGI. Yikes. While the CGI for Scooby isn't the worst I've ever seen, the CGI for the demons is an eyesore, the demons looking like something out of a low-budget, SyFy Channel creature feature. And oh yeah, because this is a Scooby-Doo movie, y'know, a movie meant for the whole family, that means the demons need to look not the least bit scary and also act more like harmless pranksters than like savage monsters intent on killing. And when we finally learn who the mastermind behind the entire mystery is, we get a CGI monstrosity that's, oh my goodness, even worse than the demons. The reported budget for this movie is at $84 million, but given the amateurish quality of the effects, I refuse to believe that to be true.
- The movie also has some bizarre and unsubtle sexual undertones. This is obvious right from the get-go when Daphne mentions getting a wedgie while the Luna Ghost is carrying her around the Wow-O-Toy Factory. This is followed up shortly afterwards by a Pamela Anderson cameo, and nothing says sexual undertones more than a 2002 Pamela Anderson. Fred has a weird line in which he says to Velma, "Dorky chicks turn me on too" and I'm not sure how this is supposed to be recapturing the spirit of the old Scooby-Doo TV show, because anyone who has ever watched at least a little bit of Scooby-Doo in their lifetime could tell you that Fred has never been sexually or romantically interested in Velma. Sarah Michelle Gellar has commented that her and Linda Cardellini shared an onscreen kiss in one scene, but that, and several other adult jokes, never made it into the final film. Writer James Gunn (You read that right. The same James Gunn who directed both Guardians of the Galaxy films) mentioned back in 2017 that there was an R-rated cut of the movie and that CGI was used to remove the cleavage of several female cast members. An R-rated Scooby-Doo movie? That would be either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever. Still though, good luck to all the parents watching this with their kids and explaining to them why Daphne looks down her shirt in one scene.
Everything is there for me to give the movie a big thumbs down. The CGI sucks, the jokes are weak, and the movie is stuffed full with more sexually suggestive bits than should ever be allowed in a family film, particularly one that's based on Scooby-Doo. But childhood nostalgia prevents me from casting a fiery rage upon this movie, and I'd be lying if I said, even now, I don't find the movie to be a little charming. It wants to be pure silliness more than anything, and that ambition results in the movie being mostly harmless fun. This is only one of many Scooby-Doo movies, but this one stands out mostly because it's live action. And despite the bad rap that live action has gotten in the years since Roger Rabbit, this version of Scooby Doo is the cinematic equivalent of an edible Scooby Snack and, thankfully, not a giant mound of Doo-Doo.
Recommend? I would only recommend if you loved watching Scooby-Doo at a young age.
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: