“Scoob!” stars Frank Welker, Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Ken Jeong, Kiersey Clemons, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, and Gina Rodriguez. Released on May 15, 2020, the film has Scooby-Doo and his friends attempting to save the world from a devious villain.
The film is directed by Tony Cervone, who is known for directing several direct-to-video films that involve “Scooby-Doo” and “Tom and Jerry” with Spike Brandt, and it is a reboot of the Scooby-Doo film series. It is also based on the animated franchise created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears. Looks like those meddling kids are at it again. After spending more than a decade solving mysteries in their direct-to-video adventures, the Scooby gang is finally ready to take on their biggest challenge yet: teaming up with the other classic Hanna-Barbera characters. The Scooby-Doo franchise, which started in 1969, has been delighting many, many people for a very long time with its humorous characters and its series of mysterious antics that they keep getting themselves into. Whenever there’s something strange in your neighborhood and the Ghostbusters are busy doing something else, consider these guys as your back-up plan. The success of the original series, “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”, lead Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. Animation to produce a bunch of follow-up and spin-off shows as well as television specials, a lot of direct-to-video films, two live-action theatrical films from Raja Gosnell and “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, and two live-action television films. The franchise is still continuing on the small screen, with “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?” airing on the Boomerang streaming service as of this writing. From what I can gather, it appears that the franchise has not made an animated Scooby-Doo film for the big screen during its lifespan. Until now, of course…which is what I would say if the cinemas hadn’t closed down. The film was supposed to hit theaters this weekend, but because of what is going on outside, it decided to go down the “Trolls World Tour” route and premiere at home via video on demand instead. Still better than being delayed to next year like some of the other 2020 films. Like a lot of you readers out there, I too grew up with Scooby-Doo. It’s undoubtedly one of my favorite childhood cartoons ever, right alongside “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Ed, Edd n Eddy”, which is why I was pretty excited to see everyone’s favorite mystery team in a brand new CGI adventure, complete with an all-star cast. Is it a well-welcome addition to the franchise? Let’s grab our magnifying glass and solve this curious mystery.
Like the 2009 television film “Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins”, “Scoob!” is an origin story that showcases how the Mystery Inc. gang came to be. The gang consists of Shaggy Rogers (Forte), Daphne Blake (Seyfried), Fred Jones (Efron), Velma Dinkley (Rodriguez), and Scooby-Doo (Welker). They spend many years solving a bunch of mysteries around the world because that’s the entire purpose of this franchise. It’s not “Scooby-Doo” without a mystery or two. They later come across a mystery that’s unlike anything they’ve encountered before. One that doesn’t involve bad guys in monster costumes and paranormal activities. The Mystery Inc. crew will have to join forces with superhero Blue Falcon (Wahlberg) and his companions Dynomutt (Jeong) and Dee Dee Sykes (Clemons) to take down Dick Dastardly (Isaacs), a villain with a nefarious plan to unleash an ancient creature known as Cerberus upon the world. That’s right, this film is taking the “Avengers” approach by uniting several characters from the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons. You got the members of Mystery Inc. because they’re the main stars. You also got Blue Falcon and Dynomutt from “Dynomutt, Dog Wonder”, Dee Dee Sykes and Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan) from “Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels”, and the already-mentioned Dick Dastardly from “Wacky Races”. I guess you can say that “Scoob!” is every Hanna-Barbera fan's dream come true, but the big mystery is whether or not it provided anything else beyond that to convince the newcomers to pay its $20 rental price. The film’s story focuses less on the franchise’s teen-detective scenario that the franchise is known for in favor of a modern, old-school, cartoonish “Avengers” clone that displays the importance of friendship, with Shaggy and Scooby-Doo being the heart of the film’s central theme. These two characters and the charismatic chemistry between them are my personal favorite parts of the shows and movies, and it’s safe for me to say that “Scoob!” nailed those parts perfectly. The story itself, however, has some hits and misses that kept it from being a perfect nostalgic experience. At times, the film seemed to rely a bit more on nostalgia and pop culture references to entertain the young kids and the adults who grew up watching the Hanna-Barbera cartoons rather than combining them with strong storytelling, which could be a turn-off for some of the non-fans who prefer animated films from Pixar or Studio Ghibli. It also didn’t help that the film went through the similar motions like the other films that involve friendship. While those misses, along with the absence of the teen-detective aspect, might disappoint some of the franchise’s hardcore fans, the film offered plenty of hits that did well in masking the negatives. It retained the heart and the goofy, slapstick-like charm that made the Hanna-Barbera cartoons special while making itself fresh in order to stand out compared to the other Hanna-Barbera adaptations. Sure, the story wasn’t as groundbreaking as the likes of “The Lego Movie” or “Inside Out”, but come on, it’s Scooby flipping Doo, not “Citizen Kane”. If you go into this film expecting it to be the next animated classic, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. It’s a 90-minute CGI cartoon that’s made to introduce the young newcomers to the franchise and impress families with its amusing and heartfelt narrative and its old-school cartoon sound effects. It’s not a fantastic CGI cartoon, but I was mildly entertained by its heart and its fast-paced energy. With the exception of Frank Welker, who reprised his role as the title character, the original voice cast for the Mystery Inc. gang from the past got replaced with celebrity voice actors because every animated film needs to have famous celebrities providing the voices for cartoon characters. You got Forte as Shaggy, Efron as Fred, Seyfried as Daphne, and Rodriguez as Velma. It’s definitely a shame that the original voice cast didn’t return to voice their beloved characters for the film, especially Matthew Lillard, who I thought did a great job playing Shaggy in the live-action films and the recent cartoons. However, I’ve gotten over it rather quickly because the new voice actors didn’t do too bad. I honestly thought Will Forte was fine in his role as Shaggy. He’s not as great as Matthew Lillard, but he made an honorable attempt to make this character his own in terms of the voice, and the result was pretty decent. The rest of the cast were also entertaining in their respective roles, including Mark Wahlberg as Blue Falcon and Jason Isaacs as the wicked Dick Dastardly, and I got to say, the casting for the latter is perfect. I only know Dastardly from the “Wacky Races” game I used to play as a child, and I usually see him as a wicked character who’ll do anything to get what he wants. This film successfully brought that character to life in CGI form, and Isaacs had the right voice acting skills to fit into his shoes perfectly. I also have to say that I’m extremely glad that they got Frank Welker back to voice Scooby. I cannot imagine someone else voicing him in the film. Frank Welker is Scooby-Doo. Enough said. I was also impressed with the film’s animation style when it comes to the cartoon physics, the environments, and the character designs. It’s basically a Hanna-Barbera cartoon with modern 3D graphics. As for the film’s humor, my only concern is that its use of pop culture gags might turn off some people who don’t want their childhood properties to be ruined by this type of stuff. Other than that, it gave me some good laughs. They’re not memorable laughs, but I laughed, and to me, that’s all that matters.
Overall, “Scoob!” is a tasty Scooby Snack that’ll satisfy almost anyone with a hunger for some family-friendly fun. Not only did it honor the spirit of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons with its charm and slapstick, but it also added some modernized freshness to the Scooby-Doo lore to keep things interesting, which, despite the risk it was taking, paid off quite well. The talented voice cast, the colorful animation, and its respectable humor were enough to overshadow its run-of-the-mill storytelling and its unusual amount of pop culture jokes. It doesn’t have the same quality as “The Lego Movie”, but I had a nice time revisiting one of my favorite childhood memories. If you’re a fan of Scooby-Doo and some of the other cartoons from Hanna-Barbera, I would say give this one a shot.