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"SCOOB!"
(2020) (voices of Will Forte, Frank Welker) (PG)


Read Our Full Content Movie Review for Parents

QUICK TAKE:
Computer-Animated Comedy/Adventure: A small group of mystery sleuths try to stop a supervillain from using their talking dog friend to unlock the gates of Hades.
PLOT:

Ten years after first meeting, Fred Jones (voice of ZAC EFRON), Velma Dinkley (voice of GINA RODRIGUEZ), Daphne Blake (voice of AMANDA SEYFRIED), Shaggy Rogers (voice of WILL FORTE) and their talking dog friend Scooby-Doo (voice of FRANK WELKER) make up Mystery, Inc., a team that investigates alleged supernatural events, mysterious occurrences and such. They're a close-knit group, but feeling slighted by a potential investor in their company, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo head off for an evening of bowling.

But after encountering shape-shifting robots that come after them, the two are rescued by Dee Dee Sykes (voice of KIERSEY CLEMONS), the pilot of the Falcon Fury ship where she works alongside Brian, a.k.a. the superhero Blue Falcon (voice of MARK WAHLBERG), and his trusty robotic canine sidekick, Dynomutt (voice of KEN JEONG).

Dee Dee informs them that arch supervillain Dick Dastardly (voice of JASON ISAACS) is after Scooby-Doo as he's the direct descendant of the dog once owned by Alexander the Great. With the latter having hidden away untold riches in Hades, Dastardly has set out to collect the skulls of Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades, believing they'll unlock the gates to the underworld. From that point on, the group and their new allies try to prevent that from happening.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

So many years have passed that I can't remember specifically how they were announced, but I distinctly remember my sister and I keeping a list of Saturday morning TV shows that were going to air on the three networks. I'm guessing our learning of the new and returning programming stemmed solely from TV ads promoting those shows, but I definitely won't forget the excitement when our favorites made the cut for another season of viewing fun.

Among those was always "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" mainly because of the supernatural elements that, natch, ended up being debunked by the intrepid quintet of amateur sleuths despite the related hijinks of the titular Great Dane and his appropriately named best friend, Shaggy.

Nowadays, of course, I don't need such hastily scribbled lists of upcoming offerings, what with what's available on the Internet. But I have to say that even if I were taking notes, I have to admit I wouldn't be as excited as I once was upon seeing that Scooby-Doo was making a return, albeit this time to the big screen.

Part of that, of course, is that I'm an adult and despite my enjoyment all those cartoons decades ago, the material wasn't that great creatively back then, especially when compared to the Looney Toons and Rocky and Bullwinkle creative offerings. The rest is due to the fact that the two live-action adaptations that came out back in 2002 and 2004 (the "best" of which scored a 2 out of 10 from yours truly) left such a bad taste in my mouth that I wasn't sure I could ever stomach any more.

Thankfully, the latest in the long line of "Scooby-Doo" offerings returns both to animated and sort of classic "SD" form in "Scoob!" While it doesn't come close to what Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks have been delivering for decades, it's an entertaining diversion that should appeal to kids while making their parents and -- this is going to make me feel old saying it -- maybe even grandparents nostalgic in remembering their enjoyment of watching those original cartoons so long ago.

As directed by Tony Cervone from a script by Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson, Derek Elliott, and Matt Lieberman, the film actually begins as an origins story where young Shaggy and young Scooby first meet and are then joined by Fred, Velma, and Daphne to retrieve a bag of Halloween candy that's been thrown into what has to be a haunted house. The five go inside and are spooked by a glowing/flying ghoul, but -- as always happened in the original show -- they prove that there's a perfectly good -- and non-supernatural -- explanation about what's occurring.

It would have been fun -- and perhaps wise -- to have stuck with them in their early years. But following the opening credits -- that, as far as I could tell, is a shot for shot remake of the same from the TV show -- we end up a decade later with the group's Mystery, Inc. investigatory services already established.

But they need an investor and thus enter, of all people, Simon Cowell (yes, that Simon Cowell from "American Idol" long ago and more recently "America's Got Talent" here in the States). He's not impressed by Scooby and Shaggy's singing (Frank Welker and Will Forte, respectively, doing a screechy version of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "Shallow") or their value to the team, thus hurting their feelings.

They head off for an evening of bowling, but the pins and balls soon turn into mini Transformer type robots that give chase and prompt the need of rescue from above by superhero Blue Falcon (voice of Mark Wahlberg), his trusty robotic canine sidekick Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), and their pilot, Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemons).

S & S quickly learn that arch supervillain Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) -- another Hanna-Barbara character from way back when, albeit one who I don't believe appeared in any "Scooby-Doo" cartoons -- wants the pooch in order to unlock the gates of Hades behind which untold riches -- and his equally evil canine partner (with the distinctive wheezy laugh) -- await. As they attempt to stop that and avoid the villain and his little shape-shifting bots, Fred (Zac Efron), Velma (Gina Rodriguez), and Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) try to find their missing friends.

Yes, like most such full-length versions of short-form cartoons (this one clocking in at 94 minutes), this one follows the "bigger has to be better" blueprint forged by other such flicks. While that sometimes proves to be the downfall of such elongated adaptations, it doesn't feel like straining to fill the running time here. The animation is visually rich without striving for anything nearing photo-realism and the work from the impressive array of famous vocal talent is pretty spot on.

There's also plenty of action, shenanigans and more for the youngsters, while some self-aware and adult-oriented humor (meaning age, not being risqué) is present to keep the parents and grandparents entertained enough as things play out. And at times like these, that's more than enough. "Scoob!" rates as a 6 out of 10.




Reviewed May 13, 2020 / Posted May 15, 2020


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