Scooby Doo

During my youth, I was often entertained by the animated adventures of Scooby Doo and his friends as they solved mysteries and crimes wherever they went with humor and good cheer. As I grew up, my Scooby watching was relegated to little more than snippets of shows when I was channel surfing or the occasional show when nothing else was on.

When I heard that a live-action film was in the works my interest was peaked, but I was unsure of the wisdom of a CGI Scooby, and was less than thrilled with some of the casting choices. My concerns grew as pictures from the set and early trailers made the film look like an uninspired mess and a disaster in the making. I went into the film screener this morning with an open mind, but concerned that a favorite show of my childhood was about to be massacred on the big screen. Thankfully, the film is a faithful live action interpretation of the classic show, which stays true to the characters of the show, and adds a touch of modern styles and attitudes to make it fun for all ages.

The film starts at the end of a mystery where Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), has been taken hostage by a ghost monster in a toy factory leaving the stylish but clueless Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), and the nerdy but creative Thelma (Linda Cardellini), to put their trap into motion. As any fan of the show can tell you, things rarely go as planned for the team, and naturally Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and his buddy Scoobby Doo disrupt the original plan yet cause the mission to succeed through blind luck and desperation brought on by fear. As the team finishes a press conference where they unmask the villain and explain how the mystery was solved, fighting amongst the group arises. It seems that Fred, Daphne, and Thelma are upset over their importance to the group, and are upset that the dull but charismatic Fred is the point person for all of the media attention that the group receives, and want their talents to be properly credited. The group splits up and goes their separate ways, leaving Shaggy and Scooby to live in the Mystery Machine by the beach. The film jumps two years into the future where a messenger for Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson), invites Shaggy and Scooby to tour his new amusement park island resort, and of course will compensate them accordingly. Shaggy is not interested in the job or the money until the promise of all you can eat is offered and before you can say buffet line, they are at the airport. At the airport, Fred, Daphne, and Thelma are reunited as they have been invited to the island unbeknownst to the others, rich girl Daphne plans to leave, and it takes Shaggy’s plea for an end to the bitterness and Thelma’s secret crush on Fred to get them to come along. Each member of the feuding trio thinks that the island will allow them to solve the mystery, and will allow them to show their true worth once and for all.

What follows is a fun-filled romp as the group sets out to uncover the mystery of the island, and why college students appear to leave the island as brainwashed zombies. There are some good laughs in the film, and it was obvious that Director Rajna Gossell is a fan of the show, and the team of writers, (Credited as WGA), were fans of the show as well. The film does not rely on catchy FX, great acting, or a tight story to entertain, it lets the characters do that, and the cast seems to be having a blast making this film. Prinze and Gellar are great playing the vapid and the spoiled without losing any of the audience, as they are a likable if at times misguided pair. Cardellini nails Thelma down to the crawling on the floor looking for her glasses, and barely hiding her crush for Fred beneath her high IQ, and creativity. The real star of the show is Lillard who does a spot on Shaggy that is amazing. His voice, walk, and mannerisms are exact replicas of the character, and it is obvious that he has done a large amount of preparations in his role. His character is also given the most to do, as he is the one who is most often paired with the CGI Scooby Doo, and who gets to deliver many good lines. Scott Innes who has voiced the animated Scooby for many years is in fine form as he brings the character to life with all of the humor, charm and compassion of his animated counterpart.

There are some moments of the film that may not be ideal for younger viewers, as there are drug references, flatulence jokes, as well as some dog pee humor, however I saw many of the adults at the screener laughing along with the children at the screener.

What the film boils down to is a fun and faithful love action version of the classic cartoon series. The characters have about as much depth and diversity as the cartoon series, yet the film is a very silly and enjoyable romp, and if you approach the movie with the same expectations you have of the cartoon show, then you might just have a good time.

3.5 stars out of 5