SCOOB! is the latest film from director Tony Cervone (Duck Dodgers) and is based on characters created by Hanna-Barbera Productions. This first full-length animated Scooby-Doo film features the voice talents of Will Forte (Booksmart) as Shaggy, Mark Whalberg (The Departed) as Blue Falcon, Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter films) as Dick Dastardly, Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation) as Velma, Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman) as Fred, Amanda Seyfried (the Mamma Mia! films) as Daphne, Kiersey Clemons (Sweetheart) as Falcon Fury pilot Dee Dee Skyes, Ken Jeong (Crazy Rich Asians) as the Falcon Force’s Dynomutt, Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) as Captain Caveman, and Frank Welker (the Transformers franchise) as Scooby-Doo.
To best describe the plot of the film, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “SCOOB! reveals how lifelong friends Scooby and Shaggy first met and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form the famous Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face their biggest, most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this global ‘dogpocalypse,’ the gang discovers that Scooby has a secret legacy and an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.”
As a horror fan, it should come as no surprise that Scooby-Doo was a major influence on me as a kid who wanted to get more into the creepier side of things. Though SCOOB! didn’t hit all the notes I was hoping it would, this new modern rendition is still a fantastic gateway for introducing a younger audience to horror. Director Tony Cervone facilitated his talent as an animator, as well as an expert in the field of Hanna-Barbera (having worked on many videos related to characters from that world), to create a film that would appeal to both kids and adults. With a runtime of 94 minutes, Cervone wasted no time in getting right into the action, something that barely lets up throughout the entire duration.
On an artistic level, there’s a lot to enjoy with SCOOB!. The animation used was one of the more interesting aspects of the film. I was impressed with how life-like some of the animation looked (aside from Simon Cowell’s face which was nightmare fuel), especially in regards to textures, and enjoyed the different styles of computer animation used. Overall, this gave the entire film a layered feel that felt almost 3D in its execution. Furthermore, the film features a vibrant, rich palette that evokes excitement and adventure, even when the more “spookier” moments unfold. Personally, I was a big fan of the pops of neon green used to accentuate the more supernatural moments.
As for the characters themselves, the animators did a great job capturing the look of our Scooby gang while also giving them a slightly modern update. It was weird not to hear Matthew Lillard as the voice of Shaggy but I think Will Forte did an excellent job of carrying the torch as the new voice in this animated feature. Daphne, Velma, and Fred, played by Amanda Seyfried, Gina Rodriguez, and Zac Efron all did their respective parts fine but I did feel as though their character didn’t have a lot of meat to chew on so it was hard to have any type of connection with them. The character that elicited the most laughs from me was definitely Blue Falcon because Mark Wahlberg‘s portrayal of that character seemed to be in line with who I’ve always pictured Mark Wahlberg to be (you’ll understand more when you watch the movie). That said, his entrance as Blue Falcon was easily one of my favorite moments from the film. Then you have our villain, the infamous Dick Dastardly, voiced by accomplished actor Jason Isaacs. As a fan of Isaacs portrayals of unsavory characters, he was a great addition to this film and offered fans a devilish character that was enjoyable to dislike.
My biggest issue with the film, however, has to be with the writing. I truly loved seeing these characters on the big screen (well on my TV screen because we can’t go to theaters right now) but I found that a lot of the jokes fell flat with some of the dialogue feeling forced to be socially conscious. Another issue I had was I felt that the characters of Dee Dee Skyes and Dynomutt, played by Kiersey Clemons and Ken Jeong, respectively, were just punching bags for Blue Falcon’s idiotic behavior. They were the true heroes in all this but I felt they were pushed to the background as secondary characters which was incredibly odd to me. I’m sure people will tell me I’m reading too much into it, but I felt as though those characters, played by well-known POC, should have been treated better than they were. Yes, I know this is an animated film mostly for children, but damn it, Dee Dee Skyes and Dynomutt deserved more respect!
Overall, I think most people will find a lot of enjoyment with SCOOB!. The nostalgia factor is definitely there and the film makes sure to tap into that with both the visuals, surprise character appearances and certain famous lines (see if you can find them all!). Outside of some of the issues I had with the writing and presentation of characters, I did enjoy the spookier elements a lot, especially when we are introduced to the Cerberus. That said, I do wish we received more in regards to the supernatural moments, but beggars can’t be choosers. All that being said, SCOOB! offers fans a film with vibrant imagery, a few spooky moments, and some much-needed entertainment for folks stuck in quarantine. It may not have been my cup of tea, but it was nice to see the whole Scooby gang back together. SCOOB! is now available for a 48-hour rental via Premium Video On Demand for $19.99 or premium digital ownership for $24.99. For more visit https://www.watchscoob.com.
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