As one of my favorite franchises ever, you can imagine how excited I was when they announced an animated Scooby-Doo film coming to theaters! Yes, we’ve had multiple animated direct-to-video Scooby-Doo films before, but never one that was intended for theatrical release or theatrical quality. I wasn’t too fond about Dax Shepard being involved in the writing and directing, but the fact that it was intended to be the first film in a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe completely had me stoked!
Fast-forward through COVID-19 and Scoob! would no longer be released to theaters and would instead go directly to streaming. (It would later get a brief weekend theatrical release in North America in 2021, but that was it.) Did the film live up to my expectations? Read on to find out!
Caution: there will be spoilers ahead!
The film begins as an origin story for the Mystery Inc. gang.
We see how Shaggy and Scooby-Doo first met: as young kids bonding over weird food combinations and in need of friends.
Shaggy adopts Scooby-Doo and the two become instant BFFs! During Halloween, they meet Fred, Daphne, and Velma as they inadvertently solve their first mystery while trick-or-treating at a spooky house. The group would become friends and continue to solve mysteries as the years went on.
adults teenagers older teenagers, the gang decides to make their mystery-solving business official and finds an investor in English talent critic scout figure Simon Cowell. Simon is pleased with Fred, Daphne, and Velma (voiced by Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, and Gina Rodriguez, respectively), but isn’t fond of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo (voiced by Will Forte and Frank Welker, respectively).
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo leave hurt and dejected but are soon chased by evil robots at a bowling alley. They’re saved by a superhero of sorts, the Blue Falcon (voiced by Mark Wahlberg), an idol of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo’s since they were younger. Technically he’s the son of the original Blue Falcon and isn’t as competent or heroic as his father was before he retired. This means that his sidekicks, Dee Dee Skyes (voiced by Kiersey Clemons) and Dynomutt (voiced by Ken Jeong), tend to have to take charge of situations.
They discover that the evil Dick Dastardly (voiced by Jason Isaacs) is after Scooby-Doo and together they must figure out why and foil his attempts. This journey will test the friendship of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo while also showing Fred, Daphne, and Velma how important Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are to the team as they try themselves to find the duo and stop Dick Dastardly.
Overall, I enjoyed the film! Many things changed regarding the writing by the time this movie was released such as Dax Shepard no longer being involved and the film being less of a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe debut and more of a smaller Hanna-Barbera crossover film (even though Captain Caveman didn’t really need to be in this). But still, I can sense the theatrical quality that they were aiming for with this film.
The CG animation was really great showcasing how our favorite mystery-solving group looks good in any medium! I also loved Dick Dastardly as a villain! Everything about him was great from his motives to his voice acting by Jason Isaacs! And while I wish they didn’t recast the voices of the Mystery Inc. gang and only retain Frank Welker, I have to say that Zac Efron’s and Amanda Seyfried’s performances were good as well.
I wasn’t fond of Gina Rodriguez’s performance though. She made the character’s voice her own, but it stands out sorely as it doesn’t sound like any other Velma Dinkley we’ve heard in the past! I also wasn’t fond of Mark Wahlberg’s and Ken Jeong’s voices. I don’t know if it was their voice acting or their voices themselves that didn’t seem to fit the characters.
The biggest criticism I can make about the film is in its writing though. Splitting Shaggy and Scooby-Doo up from Fred, Daphne, and Velma for most of the film really hurt the group dynamic. Especially if this was the first Scooby-Doo film you’ve seen, I feel that splitting up of the team from the beginning would not give you an accurate depiction of how the team worked off of and with each other.
I was also torn about whether the film should have been about the gang trying to stop Dick Dastardly from stealing all three skulls that he was aiming for or that most of the thieving should occur offscreen as this film did. Oh, and the ending of this film was incredibly deus ex machina! Like, I’ve never seen a movie with such a blatant deus ex machina ever!
Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy the film overall and am looking forward to the planned sequel. I feel it won’t be any better than this film was, but my inner Scooby-Doo fan will still be optimistic!