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Blu-ray Review: Scoob!

July 21, 2020

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Scooby-Doo, the classic cartoon dog from Hanna-Barbera, gets a shiny new CG makeover in Scoob!, a disappointingly bland animated adventure that features some appealing elements but mostly feels uninspired.

The film, which bypassed theatres and went straight to video on demand a few months ago and is now arriving on Blu-ray today, does show some early promise, setting itself up as an origin story of how Shaggy (Will Forte) first met the talking Great Dane Scooby (Frank Welker), and formed Mystery Inc. with their friends Fred (Zac Efron), Velma (Gina Rodriguez) and Daphne (Amanda Seyfried).

From here, the plot finds Shaggy, Scooby and the rest of the gang going up against the evil, moustache-twirling villain Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), who wants to use Scooby to open up a portal to Hades and bring the three-headed ghost dog Cerberus, a classic figure from Greek mythology, into our world.

Following an encounter with Dastardly’s creepy little robot minions in a bowling alley, Shaggy and Scooby find themselves beamed onto a spaceship belonging to the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), a vain superhero who is joined by his sidekick Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) and his robot dog companion Dynomutt (Ken Jeong). Meanwhile, the rest of the Mystery Inc. team springs into action to rescue their friends, and they all must work together to foil Dastardly’s plans.

I actually liked the first few scenes of Scoob!, which opens with a sweet prologue showing Shaggy as a young friendless boy (voiced Ian Armitage) befriending Scooby as a puppy and meeting the younger versions of Fred, Velma and Daphne (Pierce Gagnon, Ariana Greenblatt and Mckenna Grace) for the first time. In the film’s best set-piece, the kids end up in a haunted house on Halloween, and this sequence serves as a fun way to start the movie, recalling the feel of the classic cartoon.

But Scoob! gets more generic and forgettable as it goes along, with its rote action sequences and stale jokes. Rather than playing as a straight-forward supernatural mystery, the film instead tries to capitalize on the success of superhero movies, and at this point it becomes overly busy and starts feeling less like a proper Scooby-Doo movie. With its inclusion of characters from other cartoons, the film also feels like it is trying to set up a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe that never really materializes.

The animation itself is often easy enough on the eyes, and the updated CG character designs aren’t unappealing. But the constant pop culture references that litter the screenplay do get rather tiresome, and at just over ninety minutes, the film feels stretched thin in terms of plot. While Scoob! isn’t a terrible animated film – younger audience members will likely still get some enjoyment out of it, and much of the humour is geared towards kids anyway – it’s also often disappointing in its blandness, and I found myself wanting to like it more than I actually did.

The Blu-ray also includes a blooper reel, ten deleted scenes (Shaggy and Scooby Meet, Operation Maximum Candy With Minimum Effort, Dastardly in Peru, Chef Shaggy, Inside Scooby and Shaggy’s Minds, Mischievous Mustache, Shaggy Gets a New Friend, Dastardly Kidnaps the Gang, Escape from Island, and Night Hounds) which feature intros by director Tony Cervone, and the instructional video How to Draw Scooby-Doo which finds Cervone talking us through sketching the eponymous dog.

Finally, the disc includes a pretty decent featurette entitled New Friends, Newer Villains which focuses on how the filmmakers updated classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters for the film. This is followed by Puppies!!, a very short promotional piece featuring the cast playing with, you guessed it, puppies.

Scoob! is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 94 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: July 21st, 2020

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