The plot will be familiar to anybody who’s seen any cartoons from about 1970 onward. For those who’ve never watched cartoons, well…back to the dungeon with ye! Um, anyway: In the beginning, a bumbling hippie kid named Shaggy (voice of Will Forte) links up with Scooby Doo (Frank Welker), a skittish Great Dane. From there, our reluctant heroes form a ragtag, crime-solving nerd gang. Velma (Gina Rodriguez) serves as the brains of the outfit. Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) imbues the group with a detective’s intuition. And Fred–well, Fred (Zac Efron) looks pretty and drives the Scooby van.
Much like Greek tragedy, all of the Scooby cartoons flowed to a preordained ending. (And I have to be the only person on this planet to include a reference to ancient Greek theater in a Scooby Doo review.) There was always some haunted environs, a few pseudo-monsters, and the unmasking of a rascally curmudgeon at the end. Annnnd maybe the Harlem Globetrotters showed up every now and then. Man, there must’ve been some good bud traveling around that writer’s room.
This Scoob pretty much plays that same song. Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) is a megavillain with the usual designs of world domination. Of course, his evil plans involve ol’ Scoob and Shaggy, throwing both of our cowardly protagonists right in harm’s way. Or some such gobbledegook.
Here’s the rundown: The animation? It’s a’ight. The original cartoon wasn’t exactly The Coronation of Napoleon in its own right. I have so many synonyms at the ready, it’s a shame to only pluck one from the Pringles can. Passable. Serviceable. Adequate. That goes ditto for the voice actors, although Tracy Morgan shows up and steals a couple scenes.
Scoob!’s main asset lies in its defiantly cheerful stupidity. Few recent movies have been so guileless to such great effect. Knuckleheaded gags fly out with great fury, like that army of flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz. There’s a good chance this movie will wear you down until you can’t help but chuckle at the sheer effort of it all.
On a final note, it was always my understanding that putting punctuation at the end of movie titles was considered bad luck. Turns out, the Scooby Gang is here to buck that trend. Or, maybe halfway. I figured Scoob! would be so bad that it would make me want to sell all my possessions and move deep into the mountains. Well, 90 minutes later, I’m still here in the suburbs. This movie blows away all expectations by being surprisingly tolerable.
94 minutes. PG.