From the cheap productions of the 60s Hanna-Barbera cartoons to the enjoyably silly movies of the 90s and 2000s, the Scooby-Doo series has never been known for its quality. Rather, it’s always been the campy style and fun (if formulaic) mysteries that have kept this mystery-solving dog and his gang of teenage sleuths alive for all these years. While Scoob! – the latest cinematic outing from Mystery Inc. – makes an impressive improvement to the animation quality, this modernised reincarnation fails to capture so much of what made this franchise work, despite paying tribute to some classic characters.
Although the trailers and marketing have suggested this is an origin story between Scooby (series veteran Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Will Forte), the actual plot is something very different. Resembling more of a superhero film, it revolves around a grown-up Scooby and Shaggy setting out on an adventure with Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) to find three McGuffins before Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), while the rest of Mystery Inc. work to track down their friends. It’s a fun premise and enjoyable to see some older characters brought back with faithful performances which offer genuine laughs (especially from Welker). And it would’ve got away with it, too, if it wasn’t for a meddlesome script that crams far too much into a very short runtime – insofar as it forgets to be a Scooby-Doo film.
Being a contemporary children’s film, it’s inevitable that Scoob! would be full of lazy pop-culture references (who ever thought they’d hear a Tinder joke in Scooby-Doo?). Amongst the reference-based humour and a bizarre cameo from Simon Cowell, there are still a handful of self-aware nods that show that the writers know where the series’ roots lie, with many of the tropes you’d expect to see present and counted for. There’s even a shot-for-shot recreation of the original title sequence that older viewers will appreciate. What the script can’t accomplish, though, is effectively balancing the old with the new. Scoob! is neither a classic outing with some familiar friends, nor its own modern version of these characters. It constantly goes back and forth between each extreme, resulting in strange tonal inconsistencies.
Scoob! is a fun superhero film, an entertaining buddy comedy, a clichéd story about the power of friendship, and a loving tribute to classic cartoon characters. The one thing it isn’t is a Scooby-Doo film.
Scoob! is released digitally on demand on 10th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for Scoob! here: