REVIEW: ‘Scoob’ opens with a scene that takes us right back to the time when a young Shaggy (Will Forte), wallowing in his own loneliness, finds a lifelong companion in a stray dog. He names him Scooby Dooby Doo. Shaggy, who is often bullied due to his goofy ways, ends up in a chance adventure at a ‘haunted house’ on the Halloween night with his friends. And thus begins the journey of the ‘Mystery Inc’ that features a motely bunch kids (now in their teenage) famous for their mystery-solving skills. Shaggy and Scoob (Frank Welker) are the adorable goofballs, who are always craving for food while the rest of the Mystery Machine crew are focused on their mission. All is well until Simon Cowell shows up with his shrewd ideas to scale up the business. This ends up splitting Shaggy and Scoob from the rest of the gang. They are then attacked by the bowling pins that turn into evil minions commandeered by the film’s main villain Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs). Dastardly, who looks every bit the bad guy with his trademark handlebar moustache and a towering frame, wants to capture Scoob. As it turns out, the dog is apparently the last descendant of Alexander the Great. But a spaceship carrying the Instagramming superhero Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), his robotic pet dog Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) and his bright and brainy sidekick Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) save Shaggy and Scoob, just in the nick of time.
Too complex? Well, this is literally just the beginning. The plot (by Matt Lieberman, Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson and Derek Elliott) continues to get more bizarre and chaotic and reaches a fever pitch when a mythical three-headed dog Cerberus starts attacking all and sundry. But thankfully, in the midst of all the chaos, there’s some fun to be had. Now that it’s 2020, the characters are all up-to-date, using smartphones and sharing Netflix passwords et al. There are a lot of clever references to all things Hollywood and even current affairs. Sample this, when Fred is called a Hemsworth, he playfully asks – Chris or Liam and Velma turns up as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a Halloween night. Barring the characteristic goofiness of Shaggy and Scoob, the exchanges between the rest of the gang is just too woke.
The action and the adventurous escapades of Mystery Machine crew are quite relentless too. But not all of it is thrilling. The screenplay is needlessly clunky and overindulgent for a kiddie flick that features some of the most iconic and nostalgic cartoon characters. The film’s animation is top class but the emotional quotient is solely dependent on the chemistry between Shaggy and Scoob. However, barring one odd scene, there isn’t much to tug at your heartstrings.
We’re then left with the witty exchanges between amusing animated characters in celebrity voices. Some of the comedy is irreverent but for the most part, it’s quite flat. Surprisingly, the protagonist Scoob is the most underwhelming while Will Forte as Shaggy’s voice is just about likeable.Among the other popular Scooby-Doo characters, Fred (voiced quite aptly by Zac Efron) is the handsome dude but not all that sharp. Daphne (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) is glamour personified and Velma (voiced by Gina Rodriguez) is the most well-defined and sharp among them. Director Tony Cervone creates quite a concoction by throwing in a bunch of characters from the shared Hanna-Barbera universe into the mix. It isn’t exactly crackling, but it works to create a colourful and loud ensemble.
‘Scoob!’ is clearly more of a rehash than reinvention with some contemporary coolness and imagination so it can appeal to today’s smartphone generation. The result is mildly entertaining, but nothing exceptional.