I’ve watched a lot of older cartoons when I was a kid thanks to Boomerang, where they aired a lot of Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, and various Hanna-Barbera cartoons including Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo has a formula that you can catch onto quick. The Scooby Gang try to solve some mystery about a ghost or some other paranormal activity, but it turns out to be a person in disguise who’s doing it for some selfish/nefarious reason and they would have gotten away with, too, it if it weren’t for those meddling kids. Nothing will surprise you if you’ve ever watched any of the cartoons. This cartoon sparked a hugely successful franchise in the coming decades with multiple cartoons and films that mostly kept the same formula while putting the Scooby Gang in different situations. Some of it was good, others were bad, and the rest fell somewhere in-between. The latest incarnation of Scooby-Doo comes in the form of an animated movie that Warner Bros. set to kickstart a shared universe featuring Hanna-Barbera characters and was originally set to be released in theaters before a pandemic happened and forced the studio to release it digitally. How is the film, though? Well, let’s find out. This is Scoob!.
A young Shaggy adopts a stray puppy and gives him the name Scooby-Doo. They eventually meet and befriend Fred, Daphne, and Velma as they go on mystery-solving adventures through the years. They eventually face their biggest challenge in a villain named Dick Dastardly, who plans to open a portal into another world and that plan involves Scooby-Doo in some way. Going into Scoob, I was expecting something like the animated movies or even something akin to the live-action films. What I got instead is what happens when a company is ashamed of their IP and are trying their damndest to make it appeal to today’s kids. This movie is filled to the eyeballs with modern-day pop culture references and lingo that will age this movie like expired milk and a jukebox soundtrack of well-known popular songs that are used in so many movies, shows, and commercials that they’ve become cliched. The songs they used include California Love by Tupac, a Backstreet Boys song, One by Harry Nilsson, All I Do Is Win, Bombs Over Baghdad by OutKast, and they even used Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye. These were the decisions of an out-of-touch executive checking all the marks. I should have seen this coming in the trailers, but I was hoping that they were gonna keep it to a minimum. Boy, was I wrong.
The voice acting in this movie is… not good. On the bright side, Frank Welker is voicing Scooby-Doo, which is great. But the rest of the characters, instead of being played by actual voice actors, are played by celebrities. Will Forte voiced Shaggy and he sounded like a Shaggy impersonator. What, y’all couldn’t get Matthew Lillard to do the voice? There’s a lot of focus on the relationship between Shaggy and Scooby and while it’s fine, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Fred, Daphne, and Velma are voiced by Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, and Gina Rodriguez respectively and I don’t hear the characters when they talk, I just hear the celebrities. That disconnect makes it harder for me to get invested in them. I don’t understand this decision outside of marketing purposes. In terms of personality, the characters display the bare-basics from the show with nothing new to offer. Throughout the majority of the runtime, Shaggy and Scooby are separated from Fred, Daphne, and Velma after a meeting with Simon Cowell, which is just random. Then again, there’s been several instances where the Scooby Gang teamed up with a celebrity (which is still happening now), but they’re rarely good and the Simon Cowell thing is another example of that.
Scoob! has the same problem as Iron Man 2, BvS, and other films like them; it’s more focused on world-building and setting up sequels and other movies than telling a standalone story. This doesn’t even feel like a Scooby-Doo movie. There’s a short sequence that replicates the original cartoon’s opening that I thought was cool, but that’s about it. The rest of the runtime is this generic around-the-world adventure focused on Scooby and Shaggy teaming up with the Blue Falcon (I’m sorry, I mean Brian, the son of the original Blue Falcon), who’s every self-absorbed, idiot superhero archetype you’ve seen in any superhero parody and is voiced by Mark Walberg, Dyno-Mutt (voiceed by Ken Jeong), and Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemons), a character from the Captain Caveman cartoon who’s reimagined as an assistant to Blue Falcon. Speaking of Captain Caveman, he’s also in this movie voiced by Tracey Morgan and he’s just Tracey Morgan. So Dick Dastardly is the villain and he’s going around the world looking for these giant dog skulls that are linked to a portal to the Underworld because his partner Muttley was stuck there. But in order to open said portal, it must be done by the ancestor to Alexander The Great’s dog, who just happens to be Scooby. Yeah, this is just as moronic as you think it is.
I give Scoob! a light 3/10. What is even the purpose of this movie outside of money? The filmmakers took an IP that has lasted over 50 years with a simple, yet iconic formula and turned it into a cynical, soulless cash grab full of trendy modern references and shameless pandering. The animation is decent enough, but it can’t save the brainless story, the wooden characters, voice acting that doesn’t fit said characters, and the overall hollowness of it all. You’re better off skipping this one and sticking to the cartoons and animated movies. Hell, I’d rather you watch the first two live-action movies that James Gunn wrote, they’re a better representation of Scooby-Doo more than this. Time to put this pooch down.