opens with an extended 15-minute prologue that is heartfelt, charming and funny about how the cowardly Great Dane Scooby-Doo met his best friend Shaggy, and eventually the rest of his human pals who would become his mystery-solving cohorts. Then, as soon as the opening titles leave the screen, the movie switches gears on us, and turns into a loud, zany, nonsensical action-adventure film with evil robots, and a plot to unleash the forces of the Underworld to destroy the world. It's as if the filmmakers sent home the original writers, who respected the cartoon, and brought in Michael Bay and his team.
The movie is not terrible by any means, but it does seem overly chaotic and inspired more by modern day blockbusters than the long-running cartoon hit. Case in point, this is not just a movie about Scooby-Doo and his friends, but it's also intended to be a launching point for a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe. Scoob!
is stuffed to the gills with cameos and blink-and-you'll-miss-it references to bygone characters and shows like Jabberjaw
, Grape Ape
, Atom Ant
, Hong Kong Phooey
, and Johnny Quest
. But that's not the only way in which modern day Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking has found its way here. Make room for pointless celebrity cameos (Hi, Simon Cowell!), meta humor, buzzwords tossed into the dialogue with reckless abandon, and a plot centered around superheroes trying to prevent an apocalyptic event.
If the film didn't resemble an explosion at the screenplay factory, this could have been fun. Some of it is actually kind of fun, but the movie never slows down long enough to catch its breath. Just as we're enjoying reuniting with the Scooby Gang consisting of the egotistical Fred (voice by Zac Efron), the brainy Velma (Gina Rodriguez), lovely Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and of course, life-long best pals Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby (voice acting legend Frank Welker), the movie throws us directly into its insane plot. One night while Shaggy and Scooby are bowling, they are attacked by killer robots, only to be rescued by the city's resident superhero the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and his canine cyborg sidekick Dynomutt (Ken Jeong). The superheroes are on the trail of their arch nemesis, Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), who is hatching a scheme to resurrect Cerberus, the legendary three-headed hellhound, and for reasons that will not be revealed here, needs Scooby to do so.
It feels weird to see bungling goofballs like Shaggy and Scooby shoehorned into a story structure built around elaborate action sequences and apocalyptic evil. The weird thing about Scoob!
is that it does not disrespect the characters. All the main classic characters act like they should. Sure, there's been some controversy about how no one from the actual recent cartoons (save for Frank Welker) got to play their characters here, and were recast with "name" actors. But, everybody fills the roles out well enough. It's just that the main portion of the film feels so hollow. Rather than playing on the natural chemistry of the characters, the movie has them racing through endless action, and mindless fight scenes. It's like the filmmakers forgot the basic ingredients as to what has made the show endure for some 60 years.
The thing is, they didn't. Those opening 15 minutes I told you about at the beginning are absolutely pitch perfect. We get child versions of the main characters, which is an idea that was explored back in the 80s with the Saturday Morning cartoon A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
, and we get to see how they all met and ultimately teamed up to solve a haunted house mystery on Halloween Night. These scenes capture the innocence, humor and charm of the original. That's why the rest of the movie is so jarring. It really does feel like a completely different team of writers and storypeople worked on the prologue, and the main film itself. Whatever the case, I was grateful for the opening sequence, which is sweet and funny in ways the rest of the movie is not.
would be your typical big budget mediocre blockbuster were it not for the fact that it starts out so promising. That kind of makes it more disappointing. For a movie to start out lifting your spirits, and then send it crashing down so quickly is never fun. As the film went on, I wanted to just go back and rewatch the beginning again. It seemed to take place in a sweeter and more natural world than the movie I was watching.