I have no one to blame but myself this time. No one asked me to do this. I was even told I specifically didn’t have to review it, but I insisted. So here I am, with Scoob! (2020).
Full disclosure, I love Scooby-Doo. It’s Sherlock Holmes for children and stoners; it’s the best. Remember that time oh-so-long-ago, in my Agathe-Christine: Next Door Spy (2020) review, that I discussed wanting to private detective as a kid? Scooby-Doo is also partially responsible for that.
This is not a Scooby-Doo film.
Pictured: a whole lot of non-sense that happens to have Scooby-Doo involved
I understand that’s hard to believe given the posters, the trailers, the name of the film, but I promise you, it is not. In so many ways.
For one, there’s no mystery. The anatomy of a Scooby-Doo film was always simple: there’s some seemingly spooky scary event or being that is conveniently stopping people from digging deeper into crime times and the Mystery Inc team have come just in time to unmask the fact that the spooky scaries were the person who seemed least likely, but also the person benefiting the most from the spooky scaries. It’s a long sentence, but it’s still just one sentence. It’s hard to mess up.
Usually, in the movies, it’s the one time the spooky scaries are actually real spooky scary. So I’m not too fussed when in Scooby-Doo (2002) it’s actually Scrappy using voodoo monster magic, or in Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) all the monsters have come to life due to magic science or science magic. I’m not even fussed when there are witches and real life voodoo in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998). Or even professional wrestling in Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2014). I accept that the stakes are raised when the magic is real. Sherlock Holmes never did it, but I can still accept it.
Pictured: Unrealistic magic nonsense, but still, Scooby-Doo.
But Scoob! (2020) has none of that. Not even remotely. In fact, you know who the bad guy is at the start, you know what he’s trying to do, and for some reason it's trying to get three magic MacGuffin’s to open a portal to the Underworld. This isn’t Scooby-Doo, this is a superhero movie. This is Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
Secondly, Mystery Inc aren’t even the main focus. This is a Dynomutt, Dog Wonder movie? This is a Wacky Races movie? This is a Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels movie? This is a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe film? Scooby-Doo just happens to be the key to the Underworld which is a real magical, world-ending place that everyone knows about and believes in implicitly, despite not believing in ghosts earlier.
The movie actually has some interesting ideas, like how Mystery Inc would work as a private investigator company, but that’s pushed aside for Simon Cowell making snide remarks about Shaggy and Scooby. Why Simon Cowell, you may ask? Because… American Idol existed 20 years ago? I guess?
Friendship. Look, friendship is important okay? Whether you're Shaggy and Scooby, Dick Dastardly and Muttley, or Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. Friendship, especially doggy human friendship, is the most important thing. And Simon Cowell is wrong when he says it isn’t. The end, I saved you 90 minutes. You’re welcome.
Pictured: Unless you're Cerberus: 3-headed guardian of the Underworld. No friendship then.
Also, if you saw The Mummy (2017) and thought, “that’s a good idea, let’s try that but with Hanna-Barbera," then don’t. Lesson learnt.
So putting aside the famously upsetting recasting of professional voice actors like Matthew Lillard and Mindy Cohn, there’s a reason voice acting is a separate career to onscreen acting. The skillset for a compelling vocal performance is vastly different from that of an onscreen performance. There is nowhere better to witness this than in Scoob! (2020). Not just in comparing the half-arsed attempt at a Shaggy impression by Will Forte, to Matthew Lillard's performance for the last 18 years, but also by just including Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo himself.
Frank Welker is an actual voice actor and it shows. There is character in his voice, there is energy in his voice, there is so much in his voice that is lacking from literally every other performance in the film. I like Zac Efron just fine, but he somehow made Fred Jones even more boring. Honestly, that is such a feat, that I shouldn't be mad, I should be impressed. I’m not against Velma Dinkley being Latina now, but Gina Rodrigues brought absolutely nothing to such an iconic role other than the pronunciation of "incredible".
But don’t worry, it’s also mercilessly ugly. The lead characters are all stylistically bulbous, but not a single new character is. Nothing has any texture; everything is bland and flat. The animation is awkwardly stiff but then weirdly fluid, which just causes a bad juxtaposition. And sure, you could say that that was a creative choice based on the iconic look of old Hanna-Barbera, but that doesn’t stop it from being objectively ugly.
Pictured: To be fair, it's been uglier.
And then there’s the God-awful sound design. They try to make it sound polished and real, but every now and then they stick in an old-school sound effect and it just doesn’t work. Every time I heard one of those sound effects, I was just reminded how much better a sixty-year-old cartoon is at this.
If there’s one thing I can say this film keeps consistent, it’s its utter inconsistency.
I wish I could’ve at least said I had fun making fun of it, but I didn’t. Scoob! (2020) offers a whole lot of nothing. The Simon Cowell thing wasn’t a joke, he’s in the movie, he’s the inciting incident of the whole conflict, and why? Who was that for? Fans of the original show? Fans of the 2002 movie, maybe? They talk about Kelly Clarkson like people remember who that was.
Pictured: a major plot point with Simon Cowell.
They have really pathetic attempts at meta-humour that say absolutely nothing of substance, but are simply cheap jokes. Which is really annoying because the Scooby-Doo formula is so easy to have fun with. But it’s like they never watched ANY of the shows that this was based on. They watched the Marvel movies and thought, “Yeah, we could do that,” and threw Dick Dastardly up against Blue Falcon for some reason. They don’t even catch the bad guy in the end; he's just caught by some robots. They watch the bad guy run away and do nothing.
Pictured: They're about to take a selfie? Do you get it? Because... selfies are a thing?
What are they trying to do? Who was this for?
I think the best part in the entire film was a single reference to Gerard Depardieu being weird looking "in a cool way". Then I had a good ten minutes of ignoring the boring film whilst trying to break down who exactly they were trying to reach with that reference.
Pictured: Weird looking. In a cool way.
In conclusion, I figured it was just me. Thank-you to one of the four writers who wrote this convoluted mess. Whoever came up with the Gerard Depardieu reference just for me. I appreciate it. I didn’t like it, at all, but I did appreciate that you thought of me.