Monday, May 18, 2020

Review: SCOOB

by Adam Thas
Bad in a way that I did not see coming.

When I sat down to watch Scoob with my kids, I had already heard the early reviews and seen that it was getting panned, but was ready to defend it. I have found myself, on occasion, defending the live action Scooby-Doo movies from the early 2000s because, while they’re complete messes and not good movies, what was the expectation? I mean, it’s Scooby-Doo, a show that has lived on for nearly 50 years by using the same plot over and over: talking dog, mystery, solve mystery. Repeat next week. It’s this simplicity that made Scooby-Doo successful. There is a comfort in the repetition, and the idea that scary things may not be as scary as you think they are is what made it so appealing to kids. Straying from that original idea is what made the live action movies so terrible. When I saw the preview for Scoob, it appeared to be an “origin” movie where the gang all solves their first mystery together.
So it’s the same Scooby-Doo plot told with kids instead of adults? I’m game for that. Scoob starts out exactly that way, with Scooby and Shaggy meeting and then meeting Daphne, Fred, and Velma, and then wrap that up in about 15 minutes. Scoob then fast forwards about 10 years and picks up with the gang trying to get funding for Mystery Inc. from Simon Cowell. Yes, that Simon Cowell. At that point, the movie takes an increasingly faster nose dive into terrible. I’m not really spoiling anything, but the movie switches from being a Scooby-Doo movie to a vehicle to introduce various “B” level Hanna Barbera characters. Scooby and Shaggy join forces with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt: The Dog Wonder to fight Dick Dastardly, who is hunting for three skulls that open Alexander the Great’s tomb and along the way they go to Dinosaur Island and fight Captain Caveman. If at any of these points you heard of a single one of these cartoons, congrats! You’re in the minority.

I’m a child of the '80s and even back then most of these characters were already 10 years old. There is an “Easter Egg” toward the end of Scoob that gives a shout-out to Magilla Gorilla, and it was at that point I found myself asking who this movie was made for? My wife is the same age as me and she had no idea who any of these characters were. As it is, the only reason I knew any of these characters was from midday re-runs on UPN during the summer in the mid 1980s. One of the “unique” things that Scoob does is change the dynamic of Dynomutt. If you’ve ever watched a Dynomutt cartoon, you know Blue Falcon is always making fun of Dynomutt because he screws up. Well in Scoob, Dynomutt is the hero and Blue Falcon is the screw-up. This may be mildly interesting if you had any recollection of the original show, which almost no one watching it has. My children are 3 and 6, and I had kids later in my life and I barely remember these shows from re-run, so who is this for? Who watching Scoob has any vested interest in any of these characters besides Scooby-Doo and the Gang? I can only surmise that these characters were thrown into a movie because someone felt the need to launch them into their own series; otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense. By the end of the movie, Scooby is being chased by Cerebus the three headed dog across ancient Greece. Not a robot. Not a guy in a mask. The actual dog. At no point in Scoob is there a mystery and a majority of the movie is spent with Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Velma, and Daphne being split up in their own separate movies. Nothing that made Scooby-Doo successful is present.
It’s not that hard! Take 90 minutes and give us a mystery. It doesn’t even need to be a good mystery. Make something up. Have an amusement park owner try to scare people away so he can buy the alligator farm. My wife, my kids, myself and probably you reading this have watched episodes of Scooby-Doo where “Amusement Park Alligator Farm” was the entire plot, and we loved it so much that we watched dozens more episodes. I know that it is refreshing to have a kids' movie with substance, but being a parent I am also okay with a movie that just entertains my kids for 90 minutes. I cannot mentally grasp how you screw up something as simple as Scooby-Doo multiple times. 1969 Hanna Barbera served a theme on a platter; “Things aren’t as scary as you think they are.” Instead we get forced BS about “Friendship” and Blue Falcon trying to find himself.

I was genuinely excited for Scoob, and even though I knew it wasn’t going to be great I still was ready to defend it, but I did not see this coming. I’ve seen a lot of kids' movies, but this is a unique type of bad and it upsets me that something so simple can be screwed up to this level.

11 comments:

  1. I haven't seen any of the Scooby movies, just the show here and there. I enjoyed reading this column (probably more than you enjoyed the movie) so thank you for suffering for all of us.

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    1. I got to cuddle with a 3 year old on the couch while watching it, so it wasn’t 100% bad. More like 98%

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  2. Congratulations, sir. You are now an honorary... Glutton for Punishment (hands Adam his ribbon and certificate.)

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I got it for my kids and watched intermittently while doing chores. I was wondering why the guy from F-Zero is in it and why it seemed to be about robots and superheroes. It made my kids want to go to bed early, which is the best thing I can say. Seriously, these are supposed to be Agatha Christie for kids, how can you miss the mark so badly?

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  5. I feel your pain Adam. I love Scooby always have. My love of horror movies can probably be traced back to a childhood of rewatching scooby eps over and over. I also loved Falcon Dynomutt and Captain Caveman. Born in 75 these were my Saturday mornings. That said I spent $20 to watch 30 minutes of this. My rental doesnt expire till tonight but I cannot see going back. The opening 10 minutes were good but it drops off real quick. I made it slightly further than the Simon Cowell bit and even giggled a little at the Shallows joke with Scoob and Shaggy but couldnt get any further.

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  6. The worst part of the current superhero craze isn't the amount of superhero movies, it's the way Hollywood is turning every property into a superhero one. Scooby Doo, Robin Hood, King Arthur. Such a bummer. I didn't watch this movie, but oh boy did I not care for the trailer. But I guess I found out how Scooby Doo got his name (*massive eyeroll*).

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  7. The scariest thing about "Scoob!" and "Trolls: World Tour" (movies I haven't seen... and won't, ever) is that their On-Demand financial success in the time of Pandemic will have serious repercussions over the theatrical business going forward. These garbage kid's movies' potential effects on cinema's bottom lines are far wider than they would have had if they'd been released as intended. Who freaking knew "Trolls: WT" would be the flashpoint that would put AMC/Regal on a deadly confrontation with Universal? :-(

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  8. I unsurprised by your review here, and I am glad my daughter is too young to have gotten me to watch this, because I knew in my bones it would be bad. I was maybe 9 or 10 when the Cartoon Network made it to my cable, and I ate up the 60s and 70s Hanna-Barbera shows. So the characters you and your wife don’t recognize I have bizarre amounts of nostalgia. When I saw the trailer for Scoob that featured Dyno-Mutt and Blue Falcon, I was upset that we went from Gary Owens and Frank Welker (who’s one the movie as the voice Scoob... but not Fred) to Mark Wahlberg and Ken Jeong. I was irrationally irritated by this, knowing I’m in a teeny tiny demographic.

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  9. You and the kids can find a really good Scooby show on Netflix these days. "Mystery Incorporated" is a solid Scooby show with good mysteries, good voice work, fun references, and a surprisingly dark mystery arc throughout the entire series. That arc was dark enough for my 4 year old to not want to watch the last couple of episodes of the show, when they focused solely on the series arc.

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