Scoob! by Cameron J. Czaja

Even though I was a huge Scooby-Doo fan when I was a little kid, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about watching Scoob! or if I was going to see it when it first came out. I’ll elaborate on that part. So, because theaters are still closed due to Covid-19, Scoob! was getting the video on demand (VOD) treatment and the price to rent it was $20, or $25 if you wanted to own it outright. As you can tell by that price, I was extremely hesitant because even for a basic theater ticket that’s expensive. I ended biting the bullet and purchased Scoob! because for $5 more I at least own a movie rather than renting it at a ridiculous price. Was my purchase justified? Let’s find out.

Even though Scoob! is an animated film based off the show with a simple premise, the story here is a bit convoluted. One part of it is an origin story, another part feels like an episode of the Scooby-Doo cartoon, and another part feels like a superhero film. One thing for sure, though, is it does feature Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang that you remember if you watched any variation of Scooby Doo. There’s the title character Scooby-Doo (voiced by Frank Welker), Scoob’s best friend Shaggy (voiced by Will Forte), Mystery Inc. leader Fred (Voiced by Zac Efron) , the brains behind the group Velma (voiced by Gina Rodriguez), and the occassional damsel in distress Daphne (voiced by Amanda Seyfried). Also in this film is other Hanna-Barbara characters such as The Blue Falcon (voiced by Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt (voiced by Ken Jeong) Dee Dee Skyes (voiced by Kiersey Clemons), and the villainess Dick Dastardly (voiced by Jason Isaacs).

Now with Scoob! I feel like I’m going be somewhat biased towards it, both in a good and bad way. What I mean by that is that I enjoyed this film because of my nostalgia for the franchise, though I had some problems with it that wouldn’t bother most fans. I will say, though, that even if I wasn’t a fan of this franchise and/or Hanna Barbara in general there are flaws that Scoob! has that are pretty common in any other animated film.

One of the problems that I had with Scoob!, and this was my own bias, is the voices of the Mystery Gang. Aside from the voice actor who portrays Scooby-Doo (who has been voicing the character from the very beginning), I was not impressed with the voice actors that the film makers chose to voice Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard much better renditions in other media featuring these characters. Take Shaggy, for example.  The actor Matthew Lillard has been voicing Shaggy through various Scooby-Doo media, and while I’m not entirely familiar with them I can say that he does a fantastic job with the character. It also helps that he portrayed Shaggy in the live action Scooby-Doo film and its sequel back in the 2000s. I think the filmmakers chose not to cast the current voice talents due to wanting more recognizable faces. This really irritated me because the film focused more on wanting name recognition rather than creativity in the voice acting. I will say, though, that they got it right with Jason Isaacs portraying Dick Dastardly. As much of a one note character he was, he fit the role extremely well.

As mentioned earlier, Scoob! is pretty convoluted and I feel like it didn’t have to be. It starts out with how Shaggy and Scooby first met and how the gang started from there, but after that the film had moments of randomness. Now I’m sort of glad that they didn’t make a typical episode of Scooby-Doo, however I wanted some moments where the film wasn’t scattered. A good chunk of the film has Shaggy and Scooby with the Blue Falcon and Fred, Velma, and Daphne have to go and try and find them. There were moments that forgot they were in the film because of how unfocused it was. This type of movie moment is usually shown in animated sequels that I’ve grown to notice. There are also cliché moments here and there, though one cliché that I did appreciate was a 1 John 3:16 moment. It happens towards the end and while it does lead to a predictable moment, it was so nice to see that type of action especially in an animated film.

Now that I’ve said my piece with any negative thoughts I had with Scoob!, I do want to share some things that I did enjoy. For one, it felt like a trip down memory lane. I first discovered Scooby-Doo and Hanna-Barbara cartoons in the mid-90s (thanks to Cartoon Network) and watching certain moments in this film made me feel like a seven-year old again. I know that this doesn’t sound like professional critique of the film, but it was something about the humor and animation of Scooby-Doo that the filmmakers were able to capture from previous incarnations. Was it deep and meaningful? No, but it was enjoyable as someone who used to love Scooby-Doo. Another thing that I really enjoyed was the Hanna-Barbera Easter Easter eggs scattered throughout the film. Both myself and one of my best friends who I saw the film with were noticing and pointing at certain characters and images that we recognized during our early Cartoon Network days. It was relatable on a personal level and I wouldn’t blame anyone for not liking it if they didn’t have the same experience as I did.

To sum it all up, Scoob! is a flawed film that has the basic trappings of a typical animated film released today. That said, the film does offer a ton of nostalgia and humorous Scooby-Doo moments that any fan would enjoy. While I’m not happy that I had to pay more than I originally expected back when I first saw the trailer months ago, I’m just glad that I at least own the film so I can revisit the moments that I enjoyed. Not the greatest silver lining, but oh well.

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