Scoob! (2020)


SCOOB! (2020)

Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Simon Cowell, Frank Welker

Directed by Tony Cervone

Zoinks! The origins of the Mystery Inc. gang are revealed in the new computer animated Scooby-Doo feature that kids will enjoy more than parents. However, there are plenty of nostalgic moments and a few jokes that only the grownups will understand in the slick update that features the voices of Will Forte (Shaggy), Zac Efron (Fred), Amanda Seyfried (Daphne), Gina Rodriquez (Velma), and Frank Welker as “Scooby-Dooby-Doo!" The teenage sleuths are paired with superhero Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and his canine sidekick (and brains of the duo) Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) for this Hanna-Barbera greatest hits ensemble.

It all begins on Venice Beach where the young Norville "Shaggy" Rogers, a lonely kid with a peculiar taste in sandwiches, first meets the Great Dane pup that he eventually names Scooby-Doo. As 2Pac’s “California Love” plays in the background it quickly becomes evident that this isn’t mom and pop’s “Scooby-Doo” but a contemporary reboot. Music always played a large part in the original animated show that debuted on CBS in 1969.

The origins opening continues as Shaggy and Scooby meet Fred, Daphne, and Velma on Halloween while out trick-or-treating. The group ends up in an alleged haunted house which leads to the first unofficial supernatural mystery solved by the adolescent investigators complete with the first time a perp utters the line “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids.”

I did enjoy the CGI recreation of the original “Scooby-Doo” opening from the animated television show which features the same iconic monsters and theme song, which is covered here by the great L.A. rock band Best Coast.

A decade later we see the now teenage Mystery Inc. gang being courted by Simon Cowell (playing himself) for a new television show (move over “Ghost Adventures”) minus Shaggy and Scooby who according to Cowell, are the group’s weakest link. Did we really need a pompous CGI Simon in this new reboot to make it feel contemporary? The answer is no. Hence, lies the problem. Most of the contemporary references, which include Netflix, Tinder, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are targeted at adults (kids could care less) who just want the nostalgia of the original television show.

The adventure becomes a Hanna-Barbera’s greatest hits assemblage as The Blue Falcon and Dynomutt team up with Mystery Inc. to stop villain Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) who’s mourning his partner-in-crime Mumbly, the mumbling canine with a wheezy laugh, and there’s also an appearance by Captain Caveman voiced by Tracy Morgan. I won’t lie, I was hoping for a Hong Kong Phooey or Speed Buggy cameo.

The animation looks great, and that’s coming from someone who is a big fan of hand-drawn 2D animation, and the cast for the most part is satisfying in their respective roles although Will Forte doesn’t quite capture Shaggy’s high-pitched delivery. I don’t remember Scooby-Doo talking as much in the original series as he does here, but great voice actor Frank Welker who voiced Fred in the original show and also Dynomutt in the “Dog Wonder” animated show, does a terrific job as the gruff-voiced Scoob.

The film’s silly plot about dinosaur skulls is forgettable, the 30-minute episodes on the small screen had better storylines, but “Scoob!” is great family entertainment that despite it’s unnecessary stabs at being up to date, will leave you longing for more “Scooby-Dooby-Doo!"

Now, can we get a Space Ghost reboot?

(2 ½ stars)

Available to rent or own On Demand.

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society.  He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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