Scooby-Doo (2002)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2002 David N. Butterworth
** (out of ****)

You didn't need to see too many episodes of `Scooby-Doo' to figure out that the headless horseman was, in fact, Mr. Peevely the janitor and that he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids and their darned

dog. Similarly you don't need to watch `Scooby-Doo: The Movie' (official title:

`Scooby-Doo') more than once to realize the big screen variant of that now classic Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series from the early '70s is in actual fact *exactly* like the TV show.

That's good news for fans but not so good news for just about everyone else.

As with most of these TV cartoon movie spin-offs (`Spiderman,' `The Flintstones,' `Josie and the Pussycats'--the list is endless) casting appears to take precedence over everything else. In `'Doo,' Freddie Prinze Jr. in a tacky blonde wig plays the stiff, dimwitted Fred; "'Buffy the Vampire Slayer''s Sarah Michelle Gellar plays the curvaceous Daphne (sample dialogue: `Those creatures are taking over the world... That's so mean'); Linda Cardellini (who?) is the spectacle-losing brainiac Velma (who shows more cleavage than Daphne in her later scenes, oddly); and bringing up the rear is Matthew Lillard (`Scream'), who contributes a surprisingly accurate portrayal of Scooby's best bud Shaggy right down to the "like wow, man" high-pitched hippie intonation and that annoying little faux goatee.

The most disappointing member of the Mystery, Inc. gang, however, is Scooby-Doo himself, a computer-animated excuse for the fun-loving, all-you-can-eat, cowardly Great Dane. How hard could it be to have made Scooby look like Scooby for one thing. He doesn't.

That afterthought The Plot revolves around Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy

disbanding after solving their latest `mystery' (some ghost chase in a factory). Two years later each is summoned to Spooky Island, a skullduggery-inspired theme park owned by a Mr. Bean-like despot named Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson) to figure out why arriving Spring Break teenagers leave the place literally zombified ("zoinks!"). It doesn't really matter but once you discover why you'll also remember what signaled the demise of the TV series some 30 years ago.

You could call it history repeating itself were it not for the fact that `Scooby 2' is already in the works (with the same cast and, needless to say, same plot as this one!).

`Scooby-Doo' (the movie) wastes a lot of opportunities--its soundtrack could have been hip and retro for one thing, their adventures more relevant for another, the ghouls more ghoulish for a third--but since it never aspires to High Art, nails it characters, situations, and bogus dialogue almost effortlessly, it's hard to complain.

     But would I complain for a Scooby snack?  I just might.
David N. Butterworth

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