PG, because a group of beloved animated detectives who investigate fake ghosts investigate some real demons and open the underworld to a unknowable Hell dimension. The very nature of Scooby-Doo is a weird concept, especially when they get to the movies. The movies are just completely cool with undoing the narrative of the show and explain that demons and ghosts are, indeed, real. There's some cartoonish violence and peril, and I kind of remember some innuendo. But I could be grafting that innuendo into a movie that doesn't really have it. PG.
DIRECTOR: Tony Cervone
Why am I a sucker for a deal? When quarantine started, I remembered that Scoob! was one of the first movies to move to digital instead of a theatrical release. It feels so new to me. So when it showed up on HBO Max this quickly, I thought, "ALL RIGHT KIDS! FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT!" I don't know what in me did that, shy of the feeling of getting a sweet deal. I never really got into Scooby-Doo. The trailer did nothing for me. But golly, I ended up being super excited to watch it. There are so many movies out there, but I got excited for this? Why? What is wrong with me?
Is it possible to have nostalgia for something that you were never really into? I mean, everyone I know liked Scooby-Doo. My current students? They like Scooby-Doo. I don't get it. It always seemed cheaply made (oh, I get why people don't like Doctor Who right now. My world is falling apart.) Anyway, there are moments, and I don't understand at all why this happened, when I got choked up when watching Scoob!. It wasn't in moments where the story was particularly poignant or anything. It wasn't because there was something I learned about myself. It was because they recreated the opening theme of Scooby-Doo, Where are You? digitally. Yeah, something in the back of my brain is really screwed up because I almost wept for how beautiful it was. A reminder from a few sentences ago: I NEVER LIKED SCOOBY-DOO! I will say that the opening credits theme was a bop, but that's about the extent of my joy for the series.
The insane thing is that I knew what I was signing up for. While it looks like Scoob! threw a bunch of money at the movie, reviews said that Scoob! wasn't that great. I can see what they are going with. The movie itself is insane. There's a desperate need by the folks at Warner Brothers, in particular their animated division, to make Scooby-Doo a bigger brand than it is. It has cultural permeability and brand recognition. But the Scooby stories are always kind of trash. The gag within the show is that every episode kind of ends the same way. There's never a shock. It's the gimmick of the show. But one of the major concepts behind the show is that "ghosts aren't real." Mystery, Inc. will run into phony after phony and it is their job to debunk the lies that happen. That's the point.
But every movie, for some reason, has the gang fighting actual ghosts. It's a really muddied message. What ends up kind of happening is that there ends up being a lot of history behind Mystery Inc's adventures, but not a lot of mythology. That's maybe what is irking me with Scoob! in general. I think I drifted into my answers. Scoob! plays up on the long history of the television series and all of its iterations. (Okay, mostly it is a love letter to Hanna-Barbera, but I'll move on.) It feels like an anniversary movie, very much like Star Trek Beyond and Skyfall did. We see the origins of Shaggy and Scooby, which is adorable. We get a montage of previous villains that were defeated by Mystery, Inc. But we also know that none of those adventures really mattered. I also really get the vibe that the events of this story don't matter ultimately. Tomorrow, Velma is going to tell Shaggy and Scooby that there's no such thing as ghosts. Life will go back to normal and nothing is going to be affected.
The movie gets this grandiose feel about it. After all, this has to be the biggest adventure that Mystery, Inc. has ever been involved with, despite the fact that only Shaggy and Scooby are dealing with the lion's share of the adventure. To amp it up, there's a cameo by poor-voice actor Simon Cowell. Then, the pantheon of Hanna-Barbera characters show up, which is a whole other thing. There's magic and superheroes. Everything is being thrown at the wall to make this movie feel more epic than it really should be. The irony of it is, the most effective part of the story is the part where none of that is happening. The movie starts with a young Shaggy about to meet his best friend. He's this lonely kid who adopts a silly dog. That's what the movie should be about. To the filmmakers' credits, they do tie that back in with the adventure, but it is awfully muddied. Instead, we have the heroes intentionally divided.
It's smart that the movie is named Scoob!, but that is a detriment to the whole story. One of the central concepts behind Scoob! is that Shaggy and Scooby are finding their purpose both in life and in Mystery, Inc. This movie isn't the first film to really pick up on this idea. After all, lovable goofballs aren't meant to catch criminals. But there's something wildly ironic about the whole thing. Really, only Velma holds her own within Mystery, Inc. If I had to rank the characters in terms of effectiveness, it would go: Velma, the-Scooby-Shaggy-symbiotic-relationship, Fred, Daphne. Simon Cowell makes a point out to stress the group's archetypal dynamics. But really, two thirds of Mystery, Inc. in Scoob! (once Scooby and Shaggy hit the road), are huge wastes of space. The story really doesn't work.
What the movie ultimately is, is a nostalgic look at the world of Hanna Barbera. It's aimed for people my age and older. But it isn't a great film necessarily. The Blue Falcon stuff makes Dynomutt look like a jerk. I don't get why Captain Caveman is even in this movie. It's this complex story for something that should ultimately be pretty simple. I also realized one big thing about Scooby himself...
AHEM...Scooby's tags to jokes are the worst. Very rarely does Scooby-Doo actually start the jokes. Instead, he tags Shaggy's jokes. Shaggy's jokes are okay. I can live with those. But Scooby-Doo's tags to jokes often are "Yeah, me too!" That's not a tag. Shaggy: "Like, I could eat a peanut butter banana sandwich the size of that ghost" (C- joke). Scooby: "Me too!" Not a joke. It's written as a tag, but it's just saying "Me too". That's really weird. All of Scooby-Doo's jokes are a reminder that you just chuckled at what Shaggy said. You should probably laugh again.
A lot of my boredom with this movie came from the fact that Scooby-Doo does nothing for me. It makes me a monster. I know. This is a beloved franchise to many and I just don't get excited about it. For some reason, nostalgia hits me pretty hard, but none of the content did much for me. I wanted to like it, but I just didn't.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.