Scoob! | Tony Cervone | May 15, 2020

Scooby-Doo has been beloved by generations, thanks to the clever charm of the original animated series that has effectively stood the test of time since its release in 1969. Yet the series hasn’t been able to re-create this success with its latest modern reincarnations, especially considering the attempts at feature film adaptations, most recently seen with the early 2000’s live-action films that may have made some money but were deemed critical failures that we’ve all tried to forget.

The latest attempt to revive the series for a modern audience comes with the new animated feature film Scoob!. Tony Cervone is tapped to direct, with previous credits including direct-to-DVD Scooby-Doo animated efforts Abracadabra-Doo and Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery, as well as credits on Animaniacs, Space Jam, The Looney Tunes Show, and modern Tom and Jerry specials.

Scoob! serves as a refresher of sorts for a new generation, beginning with a cute look at how Shaggy (Will Forte) came to meet the young pup turned life-long best friend that he names Scooby-Doo (the returning Frank Welker). The screenplay, which splits credits between Matt Lieberman, Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson, and Derek Elliott, sets the story up showing us the dynamic duo’s introduction to the trio of Velma (Gina Rodriguez), Fred (Zac Efron), and Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), who soon become inseparable and solve spooky mysterious together as Mystery, Inc.

Once the table-setting is done there, the story is given a bit of a modern update with the introduction of a superhero named Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), his sidekick Dyno-Mutt (Ken Jeong), and the necessary baddie Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs, naturally). Shaggy and Scoob become separated from the team after a bit of meddling from, uh, Simon Cowell which helps the evil-plotting Dastardly get that much closer to capturing Scoob, who he believes it the key component in his evil plan.

The problem with Scoob! is that I don’t know who it’s intended for. Obviously the goal is a younger audience that will want to invest in the Scooby-Doo merchandise line but is the Scooby-Doo brand able to hold the same level of weight with the iPad generation that it is with those who treated it like a weekly televised event?

This version of Scooby-Doo does nothing to please old school fans of the series as it doesn’t feel like it embodies any of the spirit of the original. Instead, it ends up feeling like another generic animated film for kids, feeling like Despicable Me and Minions that happens to star a beloved set of characters from the Scooby-Doo universe. The shoehorned Simon Cowell “cameo” is the first alarming moment, one that makes you only more aware of future missteps such as the use of a DJ Khaled track and a character dabbing (although they get some points back for using an Outkast song). Hell, there really isn’t much of a mystery to be found in its rather meandering story.

The voice casting is suitable enough but no one member of the cast emerges as a clear standout. The animation is well done, yet Scoob! ends up feeling like it’s going through the motions and lacking a clear sense of identity and purpose. The screenplay lacks a creative wit and oomph to help it stand out more and it actually uses a good chunk of its 90-minute runtime with the gang separated from one another. If this film is meant to give the series a bit of a new-age rejuvenation, this seemed like a questionable way to go about business.

But most of all, Scoob! just falls flat without enough memorable moments or wit to make this an effective new-age Scooby-Doo film to make fans of the series happy. Sure, it may help bored youngsters pass the time while stuck at home and provide some well-needed relief for their parents, but it’s ultimately indistinguishable from every other form of entertainment that they are bombarded with, leaving me to believe that they will just move onto the next thing before you can say “Ruh-Roh!”

Rating: 5.0/10


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