Scooby-Doo as a concept is one of the malleable ideas for telling a different range of stories. They can range from comedic farces, to interesting mysteries, to outright satire and everything in between. This film, however, positions Scooby-Doo the character and series as the flashbulb moment to its own animated cinematic universe.
To that end the movie is set after the original series where Mystery Inc is looking at making their hobby a full time business. But after Simon Cowell refuses to back them as long as Scooby and Shaggy are around the team splits up just in time for Scooby to become the central McGuffin of Dick Dastardly. Now Scooby and Shaggy must team up with in universe super hero Blue Falcon’s son Brian, Dynomutt, and Dee Dee to track down the three skulls to summon a gate to the underworld. All the while Freddy, Daphne, and Velma solve what Dick Dastardly’s true scheme is along the way.
The film is gorgeous. It has this really solid aesthetic that feels like a great blend of the classic series with modern CG. The characters are really able to pop in their own distinct ways while also feeling totally cohesive. Similarly, the use of CG allows for creative and beautiful vistas and transformation effects that are stunning. It looks great.
The writing isn’t bad either. The team really seem to enjoy the Scooby-Doo series and try to put a lot into that. Many of the lines and zingers are fairly strong. Where the writing does fail is in a push for more modern references, and structure. The references are not overbearing, but they stick out. The structure meanwhile is fairly standard, and the way the gang solve the problem at the end feels kind of easy… but it’s a solid gag.
The voice work is overall solid. This is by no means the best Scooby-Doo voice cast. Will Forte is good, but no Matthew Lillard. Outside of him Zac Efron plays a good Fred, Gina Rodriguez is a solid enough Velma, and Amanda Seyfried is a really good Daphne. I am always surprised to see her in things, but she is great. The standouts are Mark Wahlberg as the cowardly screwup Blue Falcon, who is played perfectly against Ken Jeong who is really grounded even though he is a robot dog. They are great.
The strangest elements in the movie though is the push to expand Scooby-Doo as a series to include all of its knock-off series. Blue Falcon and Dynomutt are standard enough super hero parodies, but adding Captain Caveman in an extended fight scene and cameo,basically, is odd. Tracy Morgan has fun with it, but feels added for no reason.
Even with that, and some stale jokes, and basic storytelling the movie is still a bunch of fun. It has good jokes, strong chemistry, a compelling Mystery Inc team, and just a solid sense of what modern Scooby-Doo has become.
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