Um...not rated, because it can barely be considered a movie. Honestly, I went back and forth on whether I should even review this one. It's borderline a TV episode put on DVD, but it is an hour and fifteen minutes. That's technically movie length and it was never an episode of either Scooby-Doo or of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. There's nothing outwardly offensive in this one. Scooby-Doo fights people who look like ghosts. Batman fights bad guys, but this is The Brave and the Bold Batman. This is the most kid friendly Batman show, mirroring the Adam West Batman more than the Paul Dini and Bruce Timm Batman. Regardless, it isn't rated and my son literally told me, "Dad, I'd probably like that when I'm older because it was too scary." My son called me out for being an irresponsible parent when it came to showing him Scooby-Doo.
DIRECTOR: Jake Castorena
I've never been one for Scooby-Doo. I know that automatically takes away so much of my street cred, but I just never found Scooby-Doo as a brand or as a character entertaining. Sure, I'd walk around the house saying, "Zoinks, Scoob!" because I sported Shaggy's infamous goatee all throughout college, but I think I like the concept of Scooby-Doo more than I actually like the storytelling. Part of what makes Scooby-Doo weird, especially in the 21st Century, is that that it only works nowadays due to the fact that it is painfully self-aware. The old show, to my limited knowledge, was all about genuinely solving mysteries. The characters actually thought, with the exception of the intellectual Velma, that they were chasing down real ghosts that could possibly be human. Now, the show has embraced its own tropes so hard that the show honestly doesn't work if the characters don't address that the ghost is always something outside of the supernatural. Well, except for Shaggy and Scooby. Will those two ever learn? But I am a big fan of Batman. I never really watched The Brave and the Bold. I'd like to think that I'm above that kind of kid stuff, but I am not. It's just that I never really have the time for animated television outside of the stuff that is aimed at my kids. I'm going to love when my son is eight or nine -assuming that he gets over his painful fear of everything -because I'll be able to catch all of these awesome superhero shows that are just filling up my Netflix queue.
As not a fan of Scooby-Doo, the movie ended up being mildly watchable. You have to understand, I had really low expectations and I was watching it while doing the dishes. I never consider this a real watch, but I found myself really paying attention to most of the film as I was doing dishes. I had a really good vantage point and the audio was blasting, probably to the chagrin of my pregnant wife and apparently more-than-a-little-bit-scared son. What works in this fabulously long titled DVD release is that no one ever questions that Batman and Scooby-Doo should be working together. I get the idea that The Brave and the Bold is a kids' show, but they do an awesome job establishing the tone of the universe very quickly. Batman is adorably gruff and crime isn't the real kind of crime. I love that. This is the '60s comic of Batman, where the dynamic due would fight bakers on giant cakes. I'm not sure if this actually happened, but I could completely see this happening. The show pays homage to the many iterations of Batman, addressing that Batman had sidekicks, even down to Ace the Bathound. The title of The Brave and the Bold was always about the issues when two superheroes would team up to take down a bad guy. The way I understand the format for the TV show, that is exactly what would happen. As such, the movie has supporting cast in the form of Aquaman, the Black Canary, the Martian Manhunter, and the Question. (I just realized that many of these superheroes have a definite article in front of their monikers. Weird.) Mystery Incorporated teaming up in this world kind of just makes sense for everyone involved because it is the format of the show. I really like that. I know that there had to be some temptation to have Batman hesitant to team up with these kids, but I think we've seen that story before and having Batman all in makes for a fun time. The show goes from there to throw both formats into a pot to mix them. Both the rules of Scooby-Doo and the villains of Batman really mix together quite nicely. Rather than Scooby-Doo having to introduce a litany of characters that we'll never see again, they draw from the Batman rogues gallery, giving the suspects a little bit of weight and joy to their choices. Like, every Batman villain shows up. It's a little silly, but this is Scooby-Doo and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. (I hate writing that title.)
It is far from being a perfect direct-to-DVD release. Like many things that don't get a theatrical release, there is a certain degree of laziness to the storytelling. Characters just change their traits to suit the needs of the very loosey-goosey plot. MILD SPOILERS: When Mystery Incorporated is framed for the events of the story, Harvey Bullock instantly goes full force on Batman and his team. That I can kind of live with. Bullock is an "as the winds blow" kind of guy. But then all of Batman's team turns on Batman and Mystery Incorporated. I know that this isn't the first time that we have people on Batman's team question Batman. Heck, it's even a fun trope to see Batman make a moral choice to turn on his friends in what he believes is right. But usually, Batman's team is being reasonable and Batman is ratcheting up the drama to 11 with how intensely he stands by his convictions. This being the kids' Batman, Batman is the reasonable one and the team just acts like insane people. Like, every one of them think that Batman just changed sides to help criminals and that's ridiculous. But this is also the same story that defuses Martian Manhunter with a box of cookies. (I love this so much, but at least make them kind of look like Oreos. I wonder if there was a legal issue, not with Oreos, but with Hydrox. Those Hydrox fascists!) It's stuff like this. Honestly, there is one point where Scooby-Doo, who is driving the Mystery Machine, crashes the car into a bar full of Batman themed supervillains like the Joker and the Penguin. (Again, definite articles!) That is the only way to get these characters in their actual forms into the movie because they had nothing to do with the main plot. But who wants to watch a Scooby-Doo / Batman crossover without the grand-daddies of the supervillain set. There's nothing wrong with the tropes and choices that they are using, but the narrative is plain lazy. I also thing, for monetary reasons, that the movies tend to be limited to 75 minutes. I think almost every DC Direct to DVD has been in the ballpark of 75 minutes. Admittedly, I've missed quite a few, but I get the vibe that there is a mandate to keep the movies to a certain length. It's just long enough to say that there has been another Batman movie released, but not so long that they have to animate all that stuff that would cost money. Laziness is business and I can't actually throw stones at the filmmakers for this. This feels entirely corporate, but it doesn't actually suck altogether.
The biggest takeaway I had from this one is how fun the movie itself was. The Scooby gags have always been really dumb for me, but layering them onto a Batman cartoon works in ways that it really shouldn't. Even Batman calls them out for things working that really shouldn't, but Scooby's self-aware tone actually sells that way more than it should. I always thought of Scooby and Shaggy as kind of dumb characters. (Again, in the '80s, it was The Real Ghostbusters and nothing else. Sorry, all those franchises that I probably would have loved had I given them a chance.) But maybe it's just the adult in me and the fact that I was open to having a good time that their stupid little bits really worked. If I tried explaining some of the dumb stuff that happened in this movie, you would look at me with disappointment because I laughed. But I really did. I thought it was funny. Again, I was also rooting for the movie to not be scary, so any time that Scooby and Shaggy defused a scary scene with something marvelously stupid, I was really grateful. It's why I kept showing the movie, because Scooby and Shaggy did dumb stuff. Maybe that's why people like Scooby-Doo in general though. It showed that you didn't have to be scared of things that were trying to frighten you. Scooby and Shaggy are often laughed at for being so scared, but they overcame their fears when it needed to happen. I'm doing that thing that I always do when it comes to overthinking stuff that really doesn't deserve to be over-analyzed, but I may be onto something here. Scooby-Doo might be most people's only exposure to horror, but it also might be the thing that gets them to get past the completely innocent stuff. The ghosts are defeated. They are never real (with the exception of the one DVD movie that broke its own code). Batman, especially this iteration of Batman, always beats the bad guys. It also helps that this one smiles. This is the story that Henry probably needed. Sure, he may admonish me for showing him this, but maybe it helped him. He didn't have any nightmares and he got through the whole movie. Really, I'm just happy I got to watch something with him that had a little bit of action. Golly, he likes cheerful stuff.
I know it stinks that I'm putting this review up, especially after I just did a whole litany of Miyazaki Ghibli movies. Those movies are great and I don't want to be the animation guy. I'm not even into animation all that much. But I had a mildly good time with this one. It doesn't change what I think of Batman and it has no impact on mythology whatsoever. But it is a good time that I had with my kids and that's all it really aimed for.
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.