I don’t know what the hell this was but it certainly wasn’t a Scooby-Doo movie.
I’ve seen just about every type of Scooby-Doo movie there is. I’ve seen the absolute best – check out my review for Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), here – I’ve seen the exceedingly average, and I’ve seen the utterly forgettable. Never in my 24 years though have I ever seen a Scooby-Doo movie that seemed as though it was actively trying to be everything BUT a Scooby-Doo movie. Scoob! (2020) the latest entry in the beloved franchise, is a confused, bizarre clusterfuck that left me, perhaps the biggest Scooby-Doo fan in the world, severely disappointed. Seriously, you guys, it was not great. But what can you expect from a movie that has a total of SIX different writers?
Scoob! follows the Mystery, Inc. gang after they’re recruited by the superhero Blue Falcon to thwart the supervillain Dick Dastardly’s plan of opening a portal to the Underworld and unleashing the monster Cerberus. Scooby and Shaggy, feeling like they don’t contribute anything to the gang, work to prove their worth.
Look, we’ll get into the bonkers plot in a minute, but let me first say this: My less than warm reaction to Scoob! isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve been rewatching Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969 – 1978) recently and oh my God, that series HOLDS UP. It’s incredibly funny, perfectly paced, and full of the spook and mystery that made millions of people fall in love with the series. Basically, everything that Scoob! is not. Come on, how can you leave out the spook and mystery-solving?!
The biggest problem is that for me, Scoob! doesn’t do enough – or anything, really – to distinguish itself as a Scooby-Doo movie. You could remove the gang and insert any hero or team into this super generic action-comedy and it wouldn’t make any difference. Instead of writing an engaging, smart, exciting, supernatural mystery-comedy that honours the source material while still offering a fresh take, this movie exists solely to kickstart Warner Bros. shared universe of Hanna-Barbera characters. Runtime that could have been used to develop the Scooby-Doo characters and their world is devoted to shoving in as much Blue Falcon, Dick Dastardly, and Captain Caveman as possible, just to generate interest in the inevitable spin-offs. Which, by the way, I could not be less enthused about. They’re not why I wanted to see this movie! I wanted to see a new take on a modern Scooby gang using their skills to solve a spooky mystery, and instead I got a tonally-confused, corporate mess that couldn’t care less about Scooby-Doo. Ugh, this is one of the most egregious uses of trying to slap together a shared universe out of bankable intellectual property that I’ve ever seen.
Honestly, I drifted in and out of this movie far too easily. Sure, I’m 24 and this movie is clearly meant for a younger audience, but it just feels SO dumbed down. The convoluted plot is all over the place, never stopping to take a breathe, let things sink in, or y’know, tell a well thought-out story. Instead, it charges forward dumbly and loudly from one action scene to another, padding the runtime with pop-culture references and stale jokes. Seriously, the references are non-stop. It feels like a 45-year-old producer made a list of “things young people are into” – selfies, dabbing, Netflix, being “hangry,” the Hemsworths – and then spent a weekend writing a mediocre script around them. Then they threw in the Scooby gang. One “joke” is literally, “you thought Tinder was an app for delivering firewood!” Who is that for? Kids? Scooby-Doo fans? The humour feels like the topical, referential, pop-culture-heavy humour in The Lego Movie (2014). By the way, check out my review, here. It worked wonderfully for that movie though because those were original characters in an original world. Whatever tone and humour the writers of Scoob! went for simply doesn’t mesh with the Scooby-Doo world.
What makes the shortcomings of Scoob! even worse is that the movie actually starts off on a strong note. I loved seeing the sweet first meeting of Shaggy and Scooby, and their eventual meeting of Fred, Daphne, and Velma, is excellent! This backstory hit an emotional note, felt totally in character, and gave audiences something they’ve never seen before. If the movie had continued that upward climb and delivered a straightforward mystery story about the gang (JUST the gang) closing the gates of the Underworld, Scoob! could have been a great movie. Instead, it takes a deep nosedive into ridiculous territory. Superheroes, cavemen, Ancient Greece, a fucking Simon Cowell cameo…this movie wanted to play with all the toys in the toy box. Y’know what happens when you play with too many toys? You make a big mess. An overstuffed, incoherent, overwhelming mess. Also, who thought we wanted to see a Scooby-Doo movie where the gang is separated 90 per cent of the time?
I understand the movie-star casting, but I’m a little bummed that veteran voice actors Frank Welker, Grey DeLisle, and Matthew Lillard weren’t asked to voice Fred, Daphne, and Shaggy, respectively. I grew up with them and honestly, they’re pretty perfect. Despite the high salary I’m sure this A-list cast was paid, these voices sound like the dollar store versions of the characters. The cast sounds like they’re phoning in it and not even attempting to capture the essence of these iconic and beloved characters. I was especially actively annoyed at Will Forte’s uninspired Shaggy. Especially when I’ve just watched Lillard and Casey Kasem play the role perfectly in different adaptations. They’re really not written like the characters AT ALL. Every character acts so moronic. None more so than Mark Wahlberg as Blue Falcon. Were the filmmakers trying to put their own spin on them, or a fresh perspective? Or did they simply not care about doing a Scooby-Doo movie? The only thing I particularly like about this version of the gang is their modern design.
It pains me to say this about a Scooby-Doo movie, but for me, there was nothing significantly redeeming about Scoob! to warrant a second viewing. Mediocre animation, obvious foreshadowing, an overreliance on trying to be hip, a storyline and script that butcher everything we love about Scooby-Doo…the answer to this mystery is crystal clear: Scoob! is a colossal disappointment. Seriously you guys, I HATE that I just said that, but it’s the truth. Knowing how much AMAZING Scooby-Doo content there is out there, do yourself a favour and rewatch some classic movies and series rather than Scoob! Those meddling kids deserve better than this.
Are you a Scooby-Doo fan? Have you seen Scoob!?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!