Starring: Will Forte, Frank Welker, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Tony Cervone
Running Time: 94 mins
Scoob! is an American film about the adventures of Mystery Inc. as they attempt to bring down Dick Dastardly, who plans to kidnap Scooby-Doo in order to unleash an apocalyptic fate upon the world.
Soulless and formulaic throughout, Scoob! is a hugely disappointing big-screen revival for Scooby-Doo, and a far cry from its legendary origins. Almost entirely lacking the essence of the classic cartoon, this is a boring, confusing and unfunny family movie that serves neither to entertain adults nor even younger viewers, thanks to a painful over-reliance on pop culture references throughout.
And it’s with those pop culture references that I want to start. We all know that the success of The Lego Movie and its ingenious brand of meta-humour and pop culture gags has been hugely influential in kids’ movies, but when a film is almost entirely reliant on that, it really wears thin quite fast.
Only a part of The Lego Movie‘s brilliance was its comedy, and it’s actually its screenplay, performances and visuals that make it such a great film. Scoob!, on the other hand, seems frustratingly content with throwing celebrity cameos and pop culture references at you here and there, and not really doing anything else.
That’s a problem for a few reasons. First, the jokes aren’t very funny. Second, when aiming your film at kids, you can’t just thrust forward references that only older viewers (teenagers and adults) will understand. From bizarre and unsubtle jokes about Tinder, politics and more, Scoob! seems completely unaware of its target audience, and seems only able to care about making the kids laugh with a couple of throwaway slapstick jokes.
Of course, the movie’s bright animation and energetic vibe will certainly give the youngest viewers a good time, but that, coupled with humour that seems aimed a completely different audience, makes this film an utter mess to sit through.
And finally on the pop culture references, Scoob! is a film that’s going to age horribly over the years. Comedies and jokes will always age eventually, but kids’ movies should be the films to last the longest.
Think of classic Disney cartoons like Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, Cinderella and more. Though made well over half a century ago, those films are still beloved by children today, and they’re able to watch and enjoy them in the same way that kids at the time did.
But Scoob!, with its plethora of references, will be completely unintelligible to kids not just within half a century, but very likely by the end of the decade. And that, coupled with the inclusion of painful celebrity cameos, is what made Scoob! such a painful watch for me.
Looking in comparison, this film completely lacks the zany energy of the classic cartoon. Sure, it’s a bit softer on some of the more out-there references you’ll find in classic Scooby-Doo, but it feels a lot more like a soulless, corporate animated movie in the vein of The Emoji Movie, rather than the cool hippie style that makes the original Scooby-Doo so distinctive.
Also, the film’s use of excessive sci-fi and fantasy is really frustrating, again missing the essence of Scooby-Doo by skipping on the clever plot devices that always brought the stories back down to earth some way or other.
What’s more, this movie breaks up Mystery Inc. for almost the entire story, destroying the dynamic of the classic gang right from the start. The opening sequence which shows their origins is admittedly cute, but from then on, to see Shaggy and Scooby kept apart from Fred, Daphne and Velma and lumped together with a bunch of painfully bland new arrivals is such a shame.
Shaggy and Scooby always got mixed up in some different way than the rest of Mystery Inc., but to completely remove that group dynamic is really disappointing to see, and takes away from any potential nostalgic enjoyment here.
I could go on and on about why Scoob! is such a failure of a revival for a classic property. Simply put, though, it’s a lazy, boring and soulless take on one of TV and cinema’s most distinctive and enjoyable cartoons, and that makes it such a frustrating watch throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 5.0 overall.