Scooby-Doo Live-Action Movies Review

True that, it’s Scoobie Doobie Do review time on the radical Blog Complainer page. (Great opening Cam, are you proud of yourself now?)

Scooby-Doo. You all know who he is as he has entertained children of many ages for 50 years now. I kind of grew up in that Scooby-Doo peak period where he had his own direct to DVD movies, a few different animated shows, some games and of course, the point of discussion, the live action movies. Warner Bros only made two movies between 2002 and 2004, thus making Looney Tunes: Back in Action the piggy in the middle.

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I watched these two movies a lot when I was a kid, more particularly the second one as it was my favourite. I knew before going into this I may not like these as much as I used to, because from memory Scooby and Shaggy sure like to fart a lot. I decided to revisit them anyway as this was my quintessential Scooby Doo media because of how faithful it was to the cartoons.

Starting with the first movie. It has a very unexpected opening for a kids movie. As we start with the gang confronting the spooky wack-job while also giving us a nice introduction to the team. Daphne the damsel who hates being in distress, Velma the brains and the coordinator of the plan, Fred the handsome narcissistic leader and Shaggy and Scooby the screws-up and live bait for the monsters to chase. They unmasked the ghost who we learn did all of this because Pamela Anderson didn’t want to date him, after which the gang breaks up for their own personal reasons. A very different way to start a beloved kids brand.

A few years later the gang are brought back together by Johnny English who gives them a mystery to solve on an Itchy and Scratchy Land type island called Spooky Island, which is filled with college students for some reason. It was always bemusing to me that this isn’t a family island. Anyway, each member has their own little issue to conquer. Daphne is trying to be more independent of her friends, Fred and Velma have their own disputes over leadership and Shaggy meets the perfect girl disrupting his bromance with Scooby.

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Forgot about these visually terrifying things.

I must say this movie probably has the most material to cover because as an adult you notice things that wouldn’t even cross your younger self’s mind. One of the big things which shocked me recently was according to James Gunn (who you may know for his space saga about a talking tree and raccoon) this movie was going to be an R rated comedy mocking the older incarnations of this franchise. What’s crazy is they had already cast everyone and started filming when Warner Bros got cold feet and wanted it to be family friendly.

This explains why it’s an island full of college kids and why my younger self was getting mixed feelings. Also confirms my suspicions that Shaggy was doing more than just eating with Scooby when they were just chilling in the smokey Mystery Machine. That stuff fascinates me because whatever jokes did pass WB’s censors are kind of terrible. The possible reason why the CGI in this has aged so terribly is because they spent all that money hiding every half naked woman’s cleavage.

The thing that does work is the perfect casting of the members of Mystery Inc. Matthew Lillard as Shaggy has received the most credit because of his perfect portrayal of the character and also because he would play him again in every appearance afterwards. I always viewed Linda Cardellini’s portrayal of Velma in the same regard as it’s so on point. Sarah Michelle Gellar was also great and same with Freddie Prinze Jr who didn’t deserve a Razzie nomination. The characters themselves were great and had a good camaraderie with each other. Pretty much everything outside the team is bad!

The eventual conclusion to the mystery of Spooky Island and the unveiling of the main villain I found quite muddled. If this is not a good indication for a spoiler alert than I don’t know what is. How this soul stealing stuff works, with the monsters and Shaggy’s girlfriend’s role in the story, doesn’t make much sense to me. Especially with the big reveal that Johnny English isn’t the mastermind of this secret cult, but instead it’s the infamous Scrappy-Doo. You can tell this is a really clever twist because Scrappy is only mentioned and seen one time before this shocking revelation. Besides been annoying as hell Scrappy’s inclusion in the story makes zero sense. If they wanted to make jabs at how irritating Scrappy is then just have him in that one flashback scene and scrap the whole twist villain thing because it’s too much.

On reflection, I actually enjoyed Scooby-Doo more this time than I did when I was a kid. It’s pretty bad at some points, but it’s got enough of the charm from the original show while also mocking it to make it a good watch. It’s unfortunate that the movie gets kind of lost between if it’s targeting really little kids or an older audience who can laugh at the silly tropes and character traits from older Scooby-Doo media. 6/10.

2 Doo

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is still the best Scooby-Doo movie. After The Mystery gang unveil their new cool monster museum a flying pterodactyl and an evil masked man plan to ruin Mystery Inc’s reputation by releasing an army of monsters to trash the city and make them look incompetent. This is the exact same goal that Alicia Silverstone’s reporter character wants. Coincidence?

This time Daphne joins Fred on the sidelines as Shaggy and Scooby step up to prove to the rest of the group that they’re not bumbling idiots. This leads to some pretty fun sequences and, now that the series is fully committed to being family friendly, I’m no longer as mixed on the humour. So yay, more gross out humour! Also Velma gets her own subplot when she falls for a boy for the very first time. Even though she had a bit of a thing for some guy in the last movie, but that’s okay, he was forgettable and was only there so Velma could tell someone about Scrappy-Doo. Seth Green is her crush and he’s equally as boring. It’s a waste of talent too as his best scene is when he goes nuts and Shaggy asks if he could go back to having no personality.

That’s about it with the story as it’s very streamlined and less experimental than the last movie. Something of note is the special effects have improved. Last movie’s creatures looked really dated, but with the addition of several other monsters only the tar monster didn’t look very convincing. This may be because these monsters appeared in the old Scooby-Doo cartoons, but I really liked their designs and how distinguishable each monster is. The production design is also better than in the first movie and David Newman’s score I feel is underappreciated.

This is good, it’s a better movie for families with a better mystery and the super-secret twist villain is somewhat foreshadowed before the big unmasking scene, unlike in the last movie. Same score as Back in Action, 7/10.

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Gotta love those practical monsters

While making this I wondered if Scoob! would tie in or not with this review. Thankfully Warner Bros have made 15th of May the date it will be available to stream which is great because more Scooby-Doo talk. Until then I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.

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