Scooby-Doo (2002)

reviewed by
Frankie Paiva

SCOOBY-DOO   * * * 

2002 USA Director: Raja Gosnell Writers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, Craig Titley, and James Gunn Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Rowan Atkinson

Reviewed by Frankie Paiva

Be warned that (most likely) your entire opinion of the film Scooby-Doo will depend upon whether or not you like the show from which it's based. Fans of the show will be delighted to see their favorite characters brought to realistic life on the silver screen. Each actor embodies his or her character so well that the transfer from animation to film is seamless and exciting. Those who don't like the show, and find it (perhaps justly) annoying, stupid, and repetitive should stay far away. There's just more of the same here. Anyone (for example, many of the small children at my screening) who've never seen an episode of Scooby-Doo will miss the in-jokes and funny references from the show completely. This is one of those supposed children's films where I'm the only one laughing hysterically in the theatre while all the young children are completely silent.

Disclaimer: I love the television show. I have seen nearly every episode and I delight in the repetition and goofy charm of the series. My opinions of the show, therefore, extend to this feature film. It was everything I hoped it would be.

For those unaware, a group of meddling teenagers who call themselves Mystery Inc. are the top detectives in the country for cases dealing with ghosts or people pretending to be ghosts. Their leader is Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) a natural leader who is blond, handsome, and smart when it comes to plans for catching ghosts. Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the ditzy damsel in distress who often needs saving as she is kidnapped by a ghost on nearly every case. Velma (Linda Cardellini) is the brains of the group. She solves the mysteries with the clues the rest of the gang give her. Finally there's Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and his Great Dane Scooby. The two are always hungry, always scared, and always seem to be running into ghosts. The group, finally getting tired of their usual routine, decide to split up for good. Months later they are secretly reunited by a mysterious theme park owner (Rowan Atkinson, too perfect) who wants them to solve a perplexing mystery on his island resort. The gang must work together to solve the mystery and get off the spooky island.

As stated before, the performances are spot on. Particularly effective is Lillard as Shaggy. He has the groovy walk of Shaggy down, and his voice sounds scarily like Casey Kasem's original vocals. His performance makes or breaks the film. We have to believe not only that this is the same Shaggy we know and love, but that him and Scooby are pals and do everything together. This must have been a challenge because Scooby-Doo himself was completely computer-animated in post-production and added in after filming with the live actors. The relationship and interaction between Shaggy and Scooby are impressive and believable. The CGI effects were remarkable. Linda Cardellini was also very good as Velma, capturing the glass-losing nerd we all know and love. The real excitement, though, comes when she takes off her glasses, fixes her hair, and gets a new outfit for the middle of the film. It proves she is definitely gorgeous, more so than even Daphne.

The production design on Scooby-Doo reflects its cartoon origins. There are bright colors, gaudy sets, and spooky locations that actually look spooky. The many in-jokes of the film had me rolling in the aisles. Those familiar with the show know the long-running suspicion that Shaggy and Scooby puff the magic dragon of wacky weed on a regular basis. What better way to address this than by naming Shaggy's love interest Mary Jane? It's clever references like this that made this film worthwhile. There's some bathroom humor in the film (highlighted by a gross farting contest between Shaggy and Scooby) to please the kiddies (indeed it was the only thing they laughed it), but the rest of the film's jokes are aimed a little older. This creates a strange contrast for both generations watching this film, but it's nothing too jarring. As a fan of the show, I can definitely recommend this movie. For those who haven't seen the show, check out a few episodes first, I'm sure you'll be delighted.

And for all of you who've always wanted to see Scrappy Doo put to sleep. Jinkies! Wait until you see this movie!

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X-RT-RatingText: 3.5/4

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