After I saw the trailer for “Scoob!,” I was excited to see the new animated adventure on the big screen. I thought it looked like an entertaining return to classic Scooby-Doo antics with a modern flair. It also was set to feature three other Hanna Barbera properties: Blue Falcon, Captain Caveman and Dick Dastardly. The introduction of these Hanna Barbera characters would potentially open a larger Hanna Barbera Universe.
Some are burnt out on cinematic universes after Marvel’s domination and the failure of the DC Comics Extended Universe or the Dark Universe featuring Universal monsters. But I like the concept of universes and bringing classic cartoon characters together. How else do you make 50-year-old cartoons relevant?
Warner Bros. later announced on April 21 that the new Scooby-Doo movie would arrive on Video on Demand sites on May 15. I was willing to pay extra for the premium big-screen format of the film, but I wasn’t so sure that I was willing to pay $20 to rent or $25 to buy it. Unfortunately, there aren’t many new movies available to review, so I ponied up the cash.
I wish the movie cost less, but I don’t entirely regret my decision to buy it. “Scoob!” was entertaining, and it wasn’t too long or too short. The new movie also had plenty of humor to keep my wife and me engaged. This release is by no means an animated game changer, but it’s worth watching. Though, I would wait until it’s priced lower or released in theaters.
In “Scoob!” Mystery Inc. faces its greatest challenge yet when Dick Dastardly, famed Wacky Racer, plans to unleash Cerberus’s might on the world. Scooby-Doo and the gang must team up with Blue Falcon and Dyno-Mutt to stop the evil villain.
“Scoob!” is not a mystery film, and some Scooby-Doo purists will be bothered by that. That said, it’s not surprising this is the direction producers took. Nowadays, bombastic superhero spectacle is one of the few ways to get people into a movie theater, so why not inject the classic cartoon with it?
For the most part, this choice works. The inclusion of Blue Falcon and Dyno-Mutt reminded me of some of my favorite Scooby-Doo episodes when Batman and Robin showed up to help the teen detectives and their dog. However, the action and spectacle in those episodes were a bit tame. Imagine those episodes but turned up to 11, and you have “Scoob!”
Before the writers and director leap into the superhero action of Blue Falcon, they start in a more-grounded place by introducing audiences once again to Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Daphne and Velma. This opening features all the Mystery Inc. members as pre-teens and calls back to the delightful ’90s cartoon, “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.” Plus, after this prologue, the animators recreated the “Where Are You, Scooby-Doo?” intro using 3-D animation. This bit of nostalgia-inducing imagery was enough to hook me.
By acknowledging the past, the animators, writers, and director show their love for the property, which is present throughout the movie. That love is also in the jokes, but not all of them land. Regardless, I could tell that this team was trying its best to make a cartoon that would appeal to all ages, for better or worse.
“Scoob!” works best when the characters are performing slapstick bits. It can be a bit cringy, though, when the writers put modern humor in the dialogue. For instance, there are references to Ikea and toxic masculinity that don’t work well, but they happen so quickly that they don’t interfere with the momentum of the movie. I think the humor in the screenplay works best when the dialogue is more dryly delivered.
The actor who best captures this is Ken Jeong, who plays an intellectual Dyno-Mutt opposite Mark Wahlberg’s over-the-top frat boy version of Blue Falcon. Their back-and-forth is perfectly punctuated when Dyno-Mutt constantly refers to Wahlberg’s Blue Falcon as “Brian” because he is the child of the original Blue Falcon.
Frank Welker is also an obvious standout in the cast because he has been playing the titular character since 2002. He does a great job capturing the joyful spirit of Scooby-Doo but has nailed the nuance of all of the character’s emotions.
Will Forte does well as Shaggy; however, Matthew Lillard should have played the role considering he has since 2002’s live-action “Scooby-Doo” movie. Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried and Gina Rodriquez are Fred, Daphne and Velma, respectively, and they’re all fine in their roles. Regardless, I don’t think this movie needed “big” names to perform the voices when great voice actors have been playing the characters for years.
Regardless of the disrespect to the former Scooby-Doo voice actors, “Scoob!” is a fun movie that the whole family can enjoy. There are enough nostalgic nods to the original show to keep older audiences happy, great gags to hit young funny bones, and superhero action for those craving it.