Scoob! released digitally last Friday and it was a mixed bag. Scoob! had many great moments while also having plenty of lackluster moments. As a kid that grew up on reruns of Hanna-Barbera I was excited to hear about Scoob! and looked forward to it. Is Scoob! a welcome return of the franchise to relevance or yet another disappointment? Here are three reasons you should watch or skip Scoob!, which retails for a $20 rental or $25 purchase.
Why you should watch Scoob!
The top reason to watch Scoob! is if you are a fan of Hanna-Barbera and Scooby-Doo. If that is the case, it is always nice to see these characters in a relevant feature-length film. Scoob! opens the door for the exploration of an extended Hannah-Barbera extended universe as the ending credits hint towards.
Hannah-Barbera has a large catalog of characters to choose from having dominated the animation for 40-some-odd years. This extensive character library was included in the first movie of the presumed cinematic universe introducing characters from Dynomutt Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and Wacky Races. In the end, Jabberjaw, Atom Ant, and Grape Ape were introduced as part of the Falcon Force. I believe the sequel to this film should follow the route of the Hanna-Barbera Beyond comic series. Future Quest and Scooby Apocalypse revamped these characters and could work as a blueprint for an extended universe.
Another reason to see Scoob! is the animation. A quick caveat — I am not talking about character design. The character design is inconsistent such as the other members of the Scooby Gang not named Shaggy or Scooby. That aside, this film flows flawlessly which should be expected of a film of this caliber. Watching Scoob! for the animation and graphics led to a pleasant viewing experience. The vibrant colors will likely resonate with children and gain their attention which will likely lead to younger audiences to enjoy the film.
Finally, Scooby-Doo has not been relevant other than the aforementioned Scooby Apocalypse comic series as both the television series, and direct to video films have been disappointing as of late. Then there is the recent live-action Daphne & Velma, which is yet another disappointing mark on the franchise. With this recent decline in mind, Scoob!, while not being perfect, is a nice respite from the recent lackluster string of Scooby-Doo adaptations.
Why you should skip Scoob!
The story is a jumbled mess that seemed like it was unable to find a lane to stick to. Dick Dastardly as the main character driving the plot had a loose reason to kickstart the events of the film. While the separation between Muttley and Dastardly drove an interesting parallel to Scooby and Shaggy, it was not enough to carry a feature-length film. Scooby and Shaggy drifting apart in the film spurred by Shaggy’s jealousy of Scooby seems to be a bit of a stretch as well.
Additionally, nothing seemed to have impacted in the film as the film would immediately reverse actions just minutes after they happened. This was specifically troubling after a meaningful sacrifice by Shaggy that was supposed to be a key part of the film but was undone mere seconds after. This didn’t allow for any emotional investment in the situation that made me question why the audience should care about anything that happened. I understand this is a movie geared towards a younger audience, and maybe Warner Bros. didn’t want to end on a sad note, but it would have made for an intriguing sequel premise. This ending would have also given a backdoor entrance to Quest Labs.
While the film tried to stay true to original content there were minor issues that bothered me through the film. Captain Caveman left a lot to be desired, which stemmed from Tracy Morgan’s poor voice acting. Captain Caveman was barely reminiscent of the original character and sound just like Tracy Morgan. The lack of the core character’s personality traits led to other problems in the film.
Fred, Velma, and Daphne are boiled down versions of the characters and left a lot to be desired. The lack of their personality would have been noticed more if the trio had been in more of the film. This could be seen from the lack of catchphrases being used and the character designs such as Fred not having an ascot through the majority of the film.
One element that is a staple of Hanna-Barbera is the reusing backgrounds as characters ran either in place or through hallways. Scoob chose for a more realistic feeling rather than bringing notable gags back in a feature-length film. The addition of Shaggy and Scooby running in place would have been a nice touch.
Finally, is it necessary to attach big-name celebrities to animated films especially with an established series such as Scooby-Doo? Bringing in Frank Welker was necessary as he is Scooby-Doo and there is no replacement for him. For the rest of the voice-over roles such as Will Forte and Zac Efron they were poor replacements over the usual voice actors of the group. Simply sticking with the status quo and going with what works, such as Matthew Lillard voicing Shaggy, would have improved the quality of the film. The most blatant case of shoehorning celebrities in this film must be Simon Cowell. Like seriously, why is he in this film? Cowell serves no purpose other than separating Scooby and Shaggy which created the events of the film to occur. There are better ways to sow doubt into Scooby and Shaggy.
I enjoyed Scoob! and would have liked to see more from it. The audience ended up with is a visually pleasing hollow blockbuster that tried to reach into the nostalgia well and failed. Slight tweaks such as not relying upon a star-laden cast and staying true to the original characters would have improved the film. If the presumed follow up film has a clear direction the sequel has a chance of being a good film. I will not decide that the readers should watch Scoob! or skip Scoob! as that choice is entirely up to you.
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