Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson | Directed by: Raja Gosnell | Produced by: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle | Written by: James Gunn, Craig Titley, James Gunn, Andrew Gunn, John August | Distributor: Warner Brothers
In 1969, the team of Freddy, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby Doo entered the homes of America. The original action/adventure cartoon was based on the premise that there is an explanation behind ghosts and goblins. In each episode our crew would climb aboard the Mystery Machine and try to solve a case. Most of the episodes were just a simple form of animated silliness. We overlooked the obvious stereotypes. Many of the Scooby fans enjoyed Shaggy and Scooby fighting over Scooby snacks the most.
Hollywood seems to enjoy trying to cash in on the success of popular hits from the past. We have seen live action versions of Casper, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Inspector Gadget and the Flintstones, to name a few. There has been a lot of disappointment in this process. The big-screen adaptation of Scooby Doo is no exception.
I am amazed that Warner Brothers was willing to fork over $90 million to try and make this happen. This cheesy adaptation is by far the worst that I have seen. It truly is a dog (pun intended).
Our story begins with Freddy (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) taking credit for solving the mystery of the Luna Ghost, even though we all know that Velma (Linda Cardellini) is the brains behind this gumshoe crew. Poor Velma announces that she is going to quite the team. Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is tired of the teasing and always being the damsel in distress. She too quits. This leaves Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby-Doo together. Our company of friends departs and do not see each other for another two years.
When a mild eccentric (Rowan Atkinson) contacts Shaggy to help him solve the mystery of Spooky Island, Shaggy sends invitations to his former team in hopes of pulling them together yet again. What needs solving is the problem of Spooky Island visitors who appear to be brainwashed upon their exiting of the island.
This lame plot, written by James Gunn, is an obvious combination of “Final Fantasy,” “Men in Black” and “Atlantis.” Matthew Lillard’s brilliant imitation of Shaggy is commendable. But the decision to rate “Scooby Doo” at “PG” is a major oversight—“PG-13” is a much more appropriate tag.
Most of the film runs like an obnoxious music marathon. The gratuitous use of pop and product placement is way over the top. I was also uncomfortable with the idea of people trading souls and contemplating lustful advances. This flic also was extremely distasteful as it exposed women in revealing clothing. One scene, perhaps thrown in for the “older” crowd, plays off of an obvious drug association (Shaggy exclaims that he loves the name “Mary-Jane” just as we see billows of smoke coming out of the Mystery Machine.) And while some children may enjoy the gross humor, much of the content is totally inappropriate.
Seeing that “Scooby Doo” seems to be more focused on the occult instead of debunking ghostly tricks, my strong recommendation is to skip this. Just say “Scooby Don’t.”