15th May 2020 (VOD Premiere)
Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.
Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Frank Welker, Amanda Seyfried, Zack Efron, Gina Rodriguez
In Tony Cervone’s Scoob! we see how the titular mutt meets his lifelong owner Shaggy, discover how he gets his famous name, witness the formation of Mystery Inc and watch how they solve their first adventure – all within the first 10 minutes. From here, it’s all downhill so strap in for a fever dream of a plot.
The real meat on the bone comes after, as Simon Cowell (?) convinces Shaggy & Scoob during a meal at a diner that they don’t belong in the group. Dejected, they go bowling where they’re met by Gru’s min… I mean, chainsaw wielding robots that have disguised themselves as the pins. After being chased into an alley, they’re beamed up into a ship where they’re greeted by the vessel’s captain, Dee Dee Sykes. Also aboard is their hero, The Blue Falcon and his sidekick Dynomutt The Wonder Dog. Here, they learn of a scheme concocted by Dick Dastardly (yes, that Dick Dastardly) to collect the three skulls of Cerebrus, the tri-headed Gatekeeper of the Gates of Hell. Still with me? Good.
Scooby apparently holds the final key to unlock the Gates. Dastardly had previously opened a portal there to steal its riches, but when his beloved Muttley went to retrieve the gold he was unable to return to Earth. He wants to re-open the gates to be reunited with his partner in crime. Meanwhile, back on the ground, the rest of Mystery Inc are astonished to learn that they’re still in the movie and also of their friends’ capture. Through social media, no less.
Originally aiming for a September 2018 release, the film was massively pushed back to April 2020 in the US in a huge 2017 Warner Brothers slate shakeup. Its woes did not end there though, as April 2020 saw the closure of all cinemas due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Scoob! became the second high-profile feature after Trolls: World Tour to head straight to Video-on-Demand services. A UK release was finally set for 10th July 2020. After watching, I feel like this sub-paw final product should’ve headed there from the get-go.
Premiering in 1969, the Scooby Doo franchise has endured and entertained generations of fans. In its 60 years on the air, its animation may have been updated and voice artists have come and gone, but its mystery-solving format remained largely unchanged. Not the case here. The tried and tested formula has been cast aside in favour of a dreadfully contrived attempt at making a Shared Universe featuring Hannah-Barbara characters. As we know, Warner’s blueprints for Shared Universes haven’t been the most successful and Scoob! falls into the same hastily laid traps and introductions that befell its DC properties.
The voice work is adequate and unspectacular, with the replacement of Matthew Lillard with Will Forte not being as much of an issue as I’d expected. Forte brings a level of sympathy to Shaggy, especially when his best friend looks to be leaving him. The best vocals come from Jason Isaacs (Cars 2, Lucious Malfoy in Harry Potter) as Dick Dastardly who’s having far too much fun with the meagre material he’s given. Mark Wahlberg (Instant Family, Ted) raises a smile by bringing his usual comedic shtick as the chicken-hearted Blue Falcon while Efron (Fred), Rodriguez (Velma) and Seyfried (Daphne) barely have any time on screen to make an impact. And then there’s Scooby.
Here’s a complaint I didn’t expect to be making: Scooby talks too much. From what I recall, his responses are limited to one or a few words, a mischievous laugh and cowardly yelps. Here, he cracks wise with the best of them, having more conversations than the majority of Mystery Inc, who are essentially relegated to supporting characters in their own film, and frequently has to have the last word. He’s played by long time series contributor Frank Welker, who voiced Fred all but two (this included) incarnations. He’s been the anthropomorphic version of Scooby since 2002, but for me personally it’s not a voice that fits.
One of the biggest issues with Scoob! is it’s outdated before it’s even began to age. As I said, talent show mogul Simon Cowell of all people is a huge part of proceedings, being name-dropped at least six times and being the reason why the gang break up in the first place. Read that again. Simon. Cowell. A man who’s about as relevant in 2020 as the show’s namesake bracelets. Jokes about Netflix, a duet from A Star Is Born (a film that its young target audience shouldn’t even know about) and references to real-world figures like the Hemsworth Brothers and The Rock lock Scoob! firmly into a moment in time that won’t be worth revisiting. Attempts to appease adults by naming weapons ‘F-Bombs’ and Scooby making Dastardly repeatedly yell his first name might elicit a titter (even I’m bordering on being bawdy now…) but it’s the lowest of hanging fruit and hardly an achievement.
A few nostalgic nods are extremely welcomed and a shot-for-shot recreation of the original series opening in the new animated style is an enjoyable jaunt down memory lane. Fans of the old Hanna-Barbera shows are likely to get a kick out of the cameos and Easter Eggs littered throughout, but it’s not enough to let Scoob! off the leash scot-free. It won’t take a group of meddling kids to unmask this cash-grabbing imposter.
Scoob! is now available on Blu-Ray and can be purchased through WB Shop.
Nostalgic nods are extremely welcome
Wahlberg and Isaacs sound like they're having fun at least
Contrived attempt at a Hannah Barbera Shared Universe
Scooby talks too much
Outdated before its began to age with time-specific jokes