Scoob! 2020 Movie Review
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Scoob! tries to deliver a touching story about friendship, but the movie’s cringey pop culture references and cliche superhero story ruin it all.
Every few years, Hollywood attempts to reinvent classic Hanna-Barbera property Scooby-Doo – most often in animation, though sometimes in live-action – and this time Warner Bros. is delivering Scoob!, a 3D-animated comedy. With each reinvention of the talking dog and his closest pals, those behind the scenes attempt to bring something new to the table, whether that’s following the Mystery Inc. gang as kids or having the team joined by various famous figures both real and fictional. In Scoob!, the filmmakers opt to create a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe, following a trend in blockbuster franchises made popular by superhero movies. The film is directed by Tony Cervone (Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo) with a script by Adam Sztykiel (Rampage), Matt Lieberman (2019’s The Addams Family) and newcomers Jack Donaldson and Derek Elliott, from a story by Lieberman and Eyal Podell and Jonathon E. Stewart (The Angry Birds Movie 2). Scoob! tries to deliver a touching story about friendship, but the movie’s cringey pop culture references and cliche superhero story ruin it all.
Rather than a classic mystery, Scoob! sees the Mystery Inc. gang split up, with Scooby (Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Will Forte) taken in by the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and his associates, Dee Dee (Kiersey Clemons) and Dynomutt (Ken Jeong). This leaves Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) and Velma (Gina Rodriguez) to track down their friends, only to discover Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) is after Scooby to complete his evil mission. The adventure takes Scooby and the gang all around the world, running into other Hanna-Barbera characters like Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan). But it remains to be seen if Scooby and Shaggy’s friendship will survive the ordeal, or if their lifelong relationship will be what saves them in the end. Aside from Welker, who’s been voicing Scooby-Doo characters for decades, the voice cast is new to the franchise, and they’re fine enough. But Isaacs is easily the most enjoyable as the villainous Dick Dastardly, overshadowing the entire Mystery Inc. gang.
What if Scooby-Doo, but a superhero movie’ is the kind of film pitch that might sound good in theory, because it combines a recognizable property with a currently popular trend to create something new(ish). But in the case of Scoob!, it necessitates the complete reinvention of Scooby-Doo to the point that it’s entirely unrecognizable. Scoob! is not your mother’s Scooby-Doo (nor is it yours, if you grew up with literally any other version of the beloved cartoon dog). Scoob! is clearly meant to be completely unlike any other Scooby-Doo story that’s been told before, but then it features classic imagery or lines as if the filmmakers were contractually obligated to include “Jinkies.” There’s a constant tug-of-war between new and old ideas in Scoob! that ultimately leaves no one happy, with the exception of, perhaps, children too young to be interested in anything more than the candy colored animated world and Top 40 needledrops.