THE SATURDAY MORNING VAULT takes over our website once again!!
A fequent contributor to our Halloween Horrors series, as well as the author of our previously posted The Banana Splits Movie review, The Vault joins us this time with a look at the newly released to streaming “reboot” of Scooby-Doo, “Scoob!”
A while back, a new Scooby-Doo movie was announced. I pretty much ignored it, not because I’m one of those old farts that hates anything new. Well, I kind of am, but that’s not the case this time. I’ve actually enjoyed some of the newer Scooby-Doo content that came along after Warner Bros acquired Hanna-Barbera. The “Zombie Island” direct-to-video movies were fun, as was the original live-action movie. The “Mystery Incorporated” cartoon from 10 years ago also did a nice job of paying tribute to the old series while still keeping it modern. But, let’s face it, the series is 50 years old now and the classic show formula of solving a mystery and pulling off a rubber mask has been driven so far into the ground that the gang is about to bump into The Trollkins.
As some details about Scoob! started to come out, it became pretty clear that this was going to be very different than what I’d expected. This wasn’t just going to feature Scooby and the gang dealing with ghosts and solving a mystery. Blue Falcon and Dyno-Mutt would have an important role. Dick Dastardly was going to be the villain! Captain Caveman was even going to show up!! This was looking less like a Scooby-Doo movie, and more like a reboot of the Hanna-Barbara universe. Then, a trailer was dropped for the movie, and it made me laugh. This was looking interesting! Suddenly I wanted to see this! Too bad for me that my initial instinct to ignore the movie was the right one.
Aside from being a “superhero movie” more than a “mystery” (I’ll let you decide if that’s something that you can’t get past), Scoob! suffers from two major problems. First, and foremost, it’s not funny. It tries, but it rarely succeeds. For instance, Simon Cowell shows up early on to do his schtick. Why? Maybe in 2004 when American Idol was the most popular show on Earth you could sort of justify it. Now, it’s just dumb and desperate. Almost everything “funny” was in the trailer. That’s not just coming from a cranky 40-something year old adult! I watched this with a five year-old who didn’t laugh much more than me and told me later that the cartoons were better. That’s right, discerning five year-olds have spoken.
The bigger problem is with all of the changes to the characters. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a “Fuck you!” to the long time fans of these shows, but some of the changes are a bit too much! Velma escaped a bit modernized, but more or less unchanged. Fred is now a pretty-boy, dumb jock and Daphne is a Disney princess. The Blue Falcon is the original Blue Falcon’s idiot son, while Dyno-mutt must have gotten an upgrade as he’s smart and capable now. Meanwhile, Captain Caveman is now Tracy Morgan playing Tracy Morgan! Your mileage on that character will be directly proportionate to how much you like Tracy Morgan.
Shaggy and Scooby are also unchanged as characters, but their voices are incredibly grating. Shaggy now sounds like “Carl Wheezer” from Jimmy Neutron. I know most readers probably won’t get that reference, but trust me, it’s spot on. Very pathetic and whiny!
The most frustrating part of all is Scooby-Doo himself! You can actually understand him without any effort. I cannot put into words how distracting it is for Scooby to be intelligible. It got so bad my wife had to leave the room.
There is one bright spot, though. Full credit is deserved for the portrayal of Dick Dastardly. He is possibly better than he’s ever been! He’s cunning and overconfident, and at times even a little scary. He was a perfect villain! It is pretty obvious that Warner Bros is hoping to use Scoob! as a launching pad for other Hanna-Barbera properties. I can’t say I have much interest in any of them, but Dick Dastardly was good enough that I might (once again, against my better judgement) see a Wacky Racers movie if he is in it.
Overall, Scoob! is a great big pass. It’s just not what anyone was really looking for. It’s not the “my first exposure to the horror genre” like the original cartoon. It’s not particularly funny or clever. It’s not even a nice walk down memory lane. It’s just a regular run-of-the-mill kid’s movie with just enough nostalgia sprinkled in to fool an older audience into checking it out.