Scooby Doo

One of the latest trends in Hollywood is to mine old television shows for movie ideas. Perhaps it is because there is little creativity left, and it's easier to update something old than to think of something new. Or, maybe it is because of potential millions of dollars inherent in nostalgia. Either way, most of these adaptations are forgettable, and for whatever reason, most of them tend to be based on children's shows (The Flintstones, Inspector Gadget, Josie and the Pussycasts, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,...). Hanna Barbara's Scooby-Doo is the latest, but not the greatest. The hardest part of this film was deciding what to do about Scooby, that Great Dane who loves Scooby snacks. Here, he is a computer-animated dog voiced by Scott Innes (the regular Scooby voice in current cartoons). This way, Scooby is able to be a wacky as he is in the cartoons.

Scooby-Doo takes place two years after the dissolution of Mystery, Inc. It seems that competing egos prevented the gang from working together as a team. Now, Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson, Rat Race, Maybe Baby), the strange creator of Spooky Island, a scary theme park, has what he thinks is a ghost problem. He invites them all separately to come solve the mystery, and once there, they need to relearn what made them friends and successes in the first place. The updated characters retain most of their cartoon trademarks, with some modifications. Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Cruel Intentions, Simply Irresistible) is still the damsel in distress, but now she is a black belt and channels a little ditziness. Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr., Summer Catch, Head Over Heels) is a tad more arrogant than before. Velma (Linda Cardellini, Legally Blonde, The Unsaid) is nursing a sense of resentment. Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, 13 Ghosts, Summer Catch) is truest to the cartoon; perpetually hungry and a little dopey.

As a big screen adaptation, Scooby-Doo does not do anything risque with its source material. In fact, it even takes away many of the possible inside jokes about the characters (i.e. the pot references, Velma's potential homosexuality, and Fred and Daphne's possible couplings) out of the script for a more family-friendly story. This still doesn't stop adapters Craig Titley (See Spot Run) and James Gunn (The Specials, Hamster PSA) from adding a particularly annoying fart sequence. Since this movie feels the need to sink to the toilet, it must mean that it has little imagination, which is true. Scooby-Doo feels like a live version of the cartoon, and nothing more. The same humor is there, the same outdated expressions, random cameos, unmaskings, and the same plot characteristics abound. Of course this means that the gang looks horribly out of place in the modern world.

It does move at a decent pace given the lack of interesting plot material. Director Raja Gosnell (Big Momma's House, Never Been Kissed) seems to do a decent job of giving life to lifeless material. Or maybe it's just that there is so much going on at any given point that nobody has time to concentrate on what little substance there is in the film. The actors are not much help either. Lillard is the only standout amongst them. He does an excellent job of mimicking the actions and especially the voice of Shaggy. His frequent co-star, Prinze, is working at his typical level, which is uninteresting. Prinze has a flat, uninteresting delivery that does help Fred seems a little more arrogant and vain, but he also comes across as stupid. Gellar and Cardellini fall somewhere in between. Essentially, aside from the novelty factor, there was no reason for this movie to be made.

Raro Rates Rit: Rot Rhat Rood.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG for some rude humor, language, and some scary action.

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