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A Scooby-Doo Christmas (2004)
** (out of 4)
Scooby and the gang are on their way to Daphne's relatives for the Christmas season when they come across a small town being haunted by a headless snowman. It turns out that this vengeful snowman is costing everyone their Christmas spirit so the gang decides to do something about it. I've gone through countless TV episodes and movies from Scooby over the past couple of years but this here has to be the most boring one I've sat through. Thankfully this thing was just a little over twenty-minutes or else things really would have been horrid. There are all sorts of problems with this thing but the biggest is that it's story just isn't all that interesting or entertaining. The entire "mystery" is pretty easy to figure out but I think a lot of kids are going to be tuning out long before the ending. Another problem is that there's just no laughs to be had as the entire film just has a sluggish feel to it. This film does feature some nice animation and I did like the snowman but there are just so many better things dealing with Scooby and Christmas that it makes this one here well worth skipping.
At least it doesn't have a laugh track! "A Scooby-Doo! Christmas" is not the perfect holiday event one might expect, but still comes out (for the most part) on top. And while you would think the Mystery, Inc. formula would grow old after awhile, this one does keep you guessing... even if it is out of force. The gang comes to a creepy ghost town without a Christmas, where the townspeople hope they'll solve the mystery of the Headless Snowman. The plot twists are predictable, even for Scooby & company, but the slapstick is memorable and I, for one, never tire of hearing Casey Kasem perform the Shaggy voice. While it doesn't quite deserve a place in the pantheon alongside "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "The Grinch," the Scooby-Doo Christmas special is, at least, much better than "Frosty the Snowman."
Judging from watching the 'The New Scooby Doo Mysteries' episode "A
Nutcracker Scoob" over and over as a child (still think that episode is
one of the better ones of that Scooby incarnation), Scooby and
Christmas seemed like a match made in heaven.
There is a good deal to like about 'A Scooby Doo! Christmas' and it is watchable, but many fans are likely to find themselves wanting more (this reviewer was). Worse has come out from the franchise, but 'A Scooby Doo! Christmas' is not quite good enough to be up there with the classic Scooby Doo.
Starting with the good things in 'A Scooby Doo! Christmas', it is very well animated, adopting the 'What's New Scooby Doo?' style (no wonder as 'A Scooby Doo! Christmas' is an episode of that show). The colours are sharp, bright and colourful, the wintry landscapes and atmosphere evoked are striking and rich in atmosphere and festive cheer, everything is very meticulously detailed and all the characters are drawn well. The music, in a quite nice more contemporary style, is breezy and energetic with some sense of atmosphere without being obvious. The main theme in 'What's New Scooby Doo?' is also one of the franchise's most memorable. For my money though, a couple of the more energetic/chase scenes are over-scored.
'A Scooby Doo! Christmas' has some nice writing, love the charming friendship between Shaggy and Scooby (which can be seen as the heart of the franchise) and the endearingly goofy and often very funny jokes. The slapstick looks good and induces a number of good chuckles. The characters are engaging, still love the gang and the snowman is a deliciously creepy villain and benefits from some imaginative visuals and wonderfully sinister voice work from Frank Welker. The voice acting is very good, Casey Kasem still has it as Shaggy and succeeds in making him funny and lovable, Welker is still going strong as Fred and does a fine job as the snowman (his Scooby voice, this was when Welker first started voicing him, takes some getting used to, and while it has gotten better he's no Don Messick) and Mindy Cohn is a convincing Velma, who has likely had more voice actor replacements than any other Mystery Inc. character.
On the other hand, 'A Scooby Doo! Christmas' also could have been better. The story is fun and diverting, if not as suspenseful or as surprising as before. There are a few draggy moments and because there are so many typical elements it does get predictable at times. The reveal and ending are incredibly disappointing. The reveal suffers from the same problem this reviewer had with 'Scooby Doo Mecha Mutt Menace' from three years ago. It is rather too obvious who the perpetrator is once they're introduced, despite some nice attempts in the story throwing suspicion elsewhere, and mostly down to deducing by common sense that they couldn't have been where they said they were. Their motivation is one of the oldest ones too, not just for Scooby Doo but for mystery solving in general.
Unfortunately it doesn't get much better after they're revealed. 'A Scooby Doo! Christmas' has an ending that is a complete cop out and seemed to only be there to either do something different or that because it was Christmas and they were worried about being mean-spirited. Sentiment-wise it came off as forced and to me it was just so implausible for the characters to be so easily forgiving in a situation that is realistically un-condonable. As said, too, the more action-oriented chase scenes are a little over-scored and rushed.
In conclusion, was expecting more but watchable. 6/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"A Scooby-Doo! Christmas" is a 21-minute cartoon that was made for television for the holidays over 10 years ago. Scooby and the gang arrive in a small town where they find out a headless snowman is causing fear. And they take a look into the matter with the (not supernatural at all) solution coming at the end as usual. I thought this was basically a Christmas-themed Scooby Doo episode, but that it nothing negative at all. I like the television series and it's obvious that the ones who made this short film also worked on the series. There is a bit more humour and music and harmony (especially the happy ending) in here than usual, but the core action is basically the same. Funny scenes include the gang as carol singers and Scooby putting his nose too deep into a mouse hole. It isn't hurt by its predictability in terms of the "snowman"s motives and everybody who likes Scooby can certainly watch this one. I thought it was a decent little movie. Thumbs up.
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