Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

There are two things that one can learn from watching Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. The first is that with a lot of money, a crew can do wonders with paint. Scooby-Doo 2 is a wonderfully vibrant, colorful movie. Bright greens, oranges, and purples constantly fill the screen. All of the clothes, cars, costumes, and settings are vividly imagined. The second is that Matthew Lillard as Shaggy does an uncanny impression of Casey Kasem. Both these observations overlook the fact that Scooby-Doo 2 is a pretty worthless movie. It didn't even muster the energy for a story. This is just a bunch of people running around in colorful retro clothes looking for something to do. There is no reason for Scooby-Doo 2, especially given the unrelenting mediocrity of Scooby-Doo.

The "plot" by James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead, The Specials) is that all of somebody is bringing all of Mystery Inc's old villains to life. That's basically it. Cue the running around. Patrick Wisely (Seth Green, The Italian Job, Party Monster) gathered together many of the old costumes for an exhibit, and things quickly go south. Worse, reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone, Scorched, Love's Labour's Lost) has it out for them, and her biased reports turn everybody against the gang. Shaggy (Lillard, The Perfect Score, Scooby-Doo) and Scooby (voiced by Neil Fanning, Scooby-Doo) feel personally responsible, so they vow to try to solve the case on their own. Meanwhile, Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr., Scooby-Doo, Summer Catch), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Scooby-Doo, Harvard Man), and Velma (Linda Cardellini, Scooby-Doo, Legally Blonde) go about their normal things.

Director Raja Gosnell (Scooby-Doo, Big Momma's House) is also back, and again does nothing memorable. Yes, the first film made more money than it should have, but that was because of the relentless advertising. This second film does nothing whatsoever to improve upon the first, except to throw a lot more villains at the gang. The actors still interact poorly with the CGI Scooby, and Prinze still proves that he has much to learn as an actor. The story bides its time with big action sequences, inside jokes and lots of toilet humor before the inevitable unmasking. Amazingly, the special effects are pretty decent. None of the monsters look scary, but one can appreciate that they look cartoonishly realistic. There is an obvious red herring, and one, that, to Gunn's credit, is not so obvious. The sad truth of this movie is that small children will probably enjoy it, and not because it's good.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated PG for some scary action, rude humor, and language.

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