Scooby-Doo has, for more than forty years, entertained generations of audiences. From its earliest iteration in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? to the even more kid friendly A Pup Named Scooby-Doo to Be Cool, Scooby-Doo, to all of the Scooby-Doo movies, Hanna-Barbera’s beloved cartoon canine has remained a key part of America’s pop culture, offering so much entertainment. Even the many straight-to-DVD movies have offered their own value. Some have proven better than others along the way, of course. Warner Animation Group’s latest offering Scoob! is among the least memorable and enjoyable of that mass of Scooby-Doo offerings. Released through streaming in May due to COVID-19 and later to DVD and Blu-ray, this latest addition to the Scooby-Doo franchise offers little if anything to appreciate. Its story is its most glaring concern and will be addressed shortly. The general lack of any bonus content with the physical release is its own concern and will be discussed a little later. The movie’s general animation style detracts from its presentation, too. All three elements are their own negatives. When they are combined, they make Scoob! easily one of the absolute worst entries in an otherwise beloved franchise.
Warner Animation Group’s latest addition to Hanna-Barbera’s beloved long-running Scooby-Doo franchise is a failure and a disservice to the legacy that the franchise has created for itself over the decades. That is due in large part to the movie’s story. The story at the center of this movie makes the movie come across as little more than a cash grab for Warner Animation Group and Hanna-Barbera. The basis of the story is this: Scooby-Doo learns that he is “the key” to infamous HB villain Dick Dastardly opening the gates to the underworld and getting a bunch of treasure. Getting the treasure also means releasing Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the gates of hell. When Scooby-Doo learns of his place in history, it creates a strain on his friendship with Shaggy. Of course, the pair parts ways at one point, but eventually reunite at the story’s finale, with the overlying message about the power of friendship tied into the whole. That element is so schmaltzy that audiences can’t help but shake their head at that presentation. Now along the way, WAG and HB use the story as a chance to throw in a bunch of references for other classic HB series, such as Hong Kong Phooey, Captain Caveman and even The Flintstones. Not to give away too much, but the final skull for which the Mystery Inc. gang is searching is called the Slaghoople by Captain Caveman (voiced awfully here by Tracy Morgan — 30 Rock, the Box Trolls, Cop Out). For those who don’t know, Wilma Flintstone’s maiden name in The Flintstones is Slaghoople. Even the inclusion of The Blue Falcon (who as it turns out is not the original Blue Falcon here, but rather the more cowardly son of the original Blue Falcon) is in himself little more than another classic HB reference and foil for the bigger story. The underlying story with this Blue Falcon is not connected at all to the 2013 movie Mask of the Blue Falcon movie, so really, it just comes across as the people at WAG and HB using this character as a way to play to the nostalgia of long-time Scooby-Doo fans. Simply put, this movie’s story is really just one big contrived composition that is anything but memorable.
As if everything noted is not enough, this is at least the third time that audiences have been “treated” to an origin story showing how Shaggy, Scooby and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang met has been told. Audiences were presented with an origin story of sorts way back in 1989 in an episode of the beloved Scooby-Doo series A Pup Named Scooby Doo. The story of how Mystery Inc. met was again told in 2009 in the TV movie Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. According to the story in the noted episode of A Pup Named Scoobby-Doo, Shaggy and Scooby had been pals since they were both much younger (I.E. toddlers). The pair was relatively young to begin with in the series, with Shaggy and company being middle schoolers. The story presented in Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins presents a distinctly different story, with Shaggy and company being high school students, and the meeting of Shaggy and Scooby being a chance encounter. In this situation, the group met as pre-teens, all by chance, too, but in a completely different fashion from that of the past stories. In other words, it’s beyond tiring getting yet another origin story for Mystery Inc. and the friendship between Shaggy and Scooby.
Between the latest reboot on Mystery Inc.’s origin story, the clearly contrived story itself and the attempt by the movie’s writers to play off of older viewers’ nostalgia in an attempt to fool audiences, the story just fails. It outright fails, and there is no saving it. It is just one of the problems from which the movie suffers. The general lack of any real bonus content detracts from the movie’s presentation, too. The only actual bonus content featured with the movie’s physical release is a “lesson” so to speak on how to draw Scooby-Doo. Yes, that is the only bonus content that comes with the movie’s physical release. There is no audio commentary. There are no bonus discussions on why the movie’s creative heads even decided to go to the lengths of creating the movie’s story. Their explanations likely would fall short anyway. Regardless, the very fact that this little “lesson” is the only extra is more proof of the importance of bonus content to movies and TV shows in their home physical releases. Some bonus featured can make a bad movie or TV show at least slightly better. Others, such as this one, do nothing at all. To that end, it does even more to show why Scoob! should stay on the shelves or unwatched on Netflix and other streaming services. Staying on the “lesson,” the movie’s animation style is its own detriment to its presentation.
The animation style that is used in Scoob! is full on CGI. While it does look at least somewhat better than the style used for say Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo (those shows’ animation styles were abhorrent), it still suffers from its own problems. There is just something about the overall designs and the use of colors that makes the animation style problematic. It is as if those responsible for the movie’s look tried too hard to make the clearly computer generated presentation look like hand drawn. The end result is that the movie’s look just looks too spit shined. Audiences know they are watching a presentation that was created on computers. It decreases viewers’ ability to suspend their disbelief that much more. When this is considered along with everything else noted here, they combine to leave zero doubt that Scoob! is unquestionably among the very worst Scooby-Doo properties ever created.
Warner Animation Group’s latest addition to Hanna-Barbera’s beloved Scooby-Doo franchise is a completely forgettable entry in that ongoing series of titles. There is nothing redeeming about this movie. Its story attempts (unsuccessfully) to play on older viewers’ nostalgia to cover up its completely contrived nature. The lack of any real worthwhile bonus content with the movie’s home physical release detracts from its presentation in its own right. The animation style used in this presentation is a display of animators who tries to hard to make the movie look more like a hand drawn cartoon than a CGI feature. Each noted item is important in is own way to the whole of the movie. All things considered, they will leave longtime fans of this franchise agreeing that Scoob! is among the worst entries to date in the otherwise beloved Scooby-Doo franchise. More information on all things Scooby-Doo is available online at http://www.facebook.com/scoobydoo
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