I loved Scooby Doo - the cartoon has a certain charm about it, with drug and lesbian undertones it was everything that kids wanted (well, some kids). However, when I discovered that the dreaded Hollywood Remake Machine™ had the plucky gang and their loveable canine in its sights I knew things were not looking good. Unfortunately it was a founded apprehension as the new film inspires cries of 'YIKES' and 'ZONK!'.
Never mind; on with the review. The famous mystery solving team, Mystery Inc has broken up due to personal differences. Fred is full of narcissisms and claims credit for everything, Daphne is tired of being the damsel in distress and Velma insists on being recognised for her intellect. Only Scooby and Shaggy remain true to the gang and end up hanging out together.
Two years later, the gang receive invitations to Spooky Island, an amusement park, by its owner Mr Mondarvious (Rowan Atkinson doing his usual American-film-type appearance). Mr Mondarvious wants the gang back together to solve the mystery of why the rowdy college students who come to the island leave as docile, almost brainwashed zombies when they leave.
The gang is reluctantly forced back and discover that the real villain behind Spooky Island is more than meets the eye, and closer to home.
That's the gist of the film. The biggest problem with Scooby Doo is that it's too childish for adults and too grown up for kids. There are copious 'hidden' references to pot and other drug taking. Shaggy's got himself a girlfriend called Mary Jane. He and Scooby will do anything for little baggies of Scooby Snack. Fred begs to be talked down at one point, also 'Pass the Dutchie' is played during the soundtrack and so on. Also almost every female seems to have tight tops or cleavage popping out, including background extras. Even at one point the ample cleavage of Velma appears peeking from her low cut jumper (which mysteriously returns back to her trademark turtle neck later - hmm...is that the real mystery?).
The performances are bad, apart from the spot-on Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and pretty-good Velma (Linda Cardllini). Freddie Prinze Jnr as Fred and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne are awful. Prinze Jnr couldn't act his way out of a paper bag on a good day and as a result is Fred is dull and boring. Gellar isn't much cop either, with an irritating turn as Daphne. I'd rather watch the cartoon version of both of them.
As mentioned before, Matthew Lillard is excellent as Shaggy; with a spot on performance and watching him with Scooby is one of the few highlights of the film. The completely computer generated Scooby Doo is excellent and totally upstages everyone else's acting abilities. He's not detracting as a CGI dog and some of his mannerisms are caught perfectly ('Ramburgers!'). And having a burping/fart contest between a dog and stoner guy has to be the highlight of this travesty.
Also the lesbian undertones between Velma and Daphne have been removed (apparently a infamous kissing scene was filmed however). Seeing that this is a kiddie's film, its not a problem, but they could have left some of the undertones from the cartoon intact though.
The ending is just awful, with a 'surprise' villain popping up and also the ending is surprisingly darker than the rest of the film. The look of the film, however, is good and 'cartoonish'. There's no logic to the whole thing either, which is the biggest problem. Unfortunately the 'It was old man Withers - I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you damn kids!' trademark is wasted at the beginning of the film and we are then expected to believe in supernatural powers. There were never any supernatural powers in the Scooby Doo world, just someone with some sort of apparatus (i.e. mechanical ghost riders, luminous paint etc etc etc). Anyone familiar with the cartoon knows that there are never any ghosts. What was director Raja Gosnell thinking? Never stray from the source material too much! Plus pay attention - that boom microphone makes numerous appearances at the top of the screen again (was it being operated by the same guy in Spiderman too?)
Still bad acting, crap script, deviations from the original source matter, flashy visuals and pumping soundtracks never detracted from making a film a hit, and I'm sure that flocks of parents will dutifully take their kiddies to a film that's based on a cartoon from their childhoods.
As a result, studios will flock to buy the rights for other cartoons. Hopefully they never ruin the classics such as Captain Caveman, Catch The Pigeon, Wacky Races and so on. (My money is on The Jetsons being next).
SCORE 4/10 (mostly for Shaggy, Scooby and drug references!)
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