Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined. (from IMDb)
In this current weirdness known as quarantined life due to a worldwide pandemic (it’s strange to even be typing a sentence like that), it’s a bittersweet thing to get to see brand new theatrical films at home on release day. Universal Pictures saw great success recently with their home release of Trolls World Tour, and now Warner Bros. is throwing their hat in the ring with the straight-to-digital home release of the originally planned theatrical production, Scoob!, the latest Scooby-Doo adventure. It’s a little bit of an origin story for our favorite canine sleuth, as it ambitiously sets up a Hanna-Barbera world where the characters from the old classic cartoons of the 60’s share the same cinematic universe.
Scoob! opens on a young Shaggy who is suffering from loneliness and feeling left out when he bumps into a young pup evading a cop after having stolen a slab of gyro meat from an open shop window. Shaggy immediately feels for the little pooch, and in order to get him out of trouble with the law, the boy thinks fast and names the little puppy Scooby Dooby-Doo. The pair become fast friends, and when they get picked on by fellow trick-or-treaters one Halloween night, they bump into the friendly faces of three soon-to-be pals: Fred, Daphne and Velma. They soon find themselves investigating a haunted house and end up nabbing their first bad guy. Flash forward to their teen years and the gang are renowned crime-fighting detectives–complete with their Mystery Machine–who are given the opportunity for greater things by, of course, none other than… American Idol‘s Simon Cowell? This is actually when things kind of start to unravel. It’s moments like these in Scoob! that make you wonder why it seems to have been difficult for the filmmakers to figure out what to do with this movie. There are pop culture references sprinkled throughout the film that largely don’t feel clever and don’t land like they probably thought they would. (I guess the old show had a lot of celebrity cameos, but… Simon Cowell? In 2020?) When Shaggy feels the need to show off us singing IN-abilities upon meeting Simon, it just feels like the next step down in a poor attempt at trying to be relevant. Shrek 2 had a cutesier cameo for Simon, but that was 16 years ago, and it played better than this does. Anyway, plot-wise, Simon’s involvement puts Shaggy and Scoob on the outs from the crime-fighting team, which ends up pushing them into the company of The Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. It’s here that some may start to wonder what exactly is going on here. Before long, though, the film’s chief villain is revealed to be none other than another familiar Hanna-Barbera character, Dick Dastardly (without his snickering dog, Muttley), as the Batman v Superman level universe-building continues. (Why isn’t this just called Hanna-Barbera or Scooby-Doo and The Blue Falcon, Too?)
For the most part, Scoob! is a mixed bag. As a comedy, it’s surprisingly not that funny (I think I may have chuckled maybe two or three times). As an adventure, it’s got some thrills that fans will likely enjoy, but there just seemed to be something really missing here. Perhaps it had something to do with Shaggy and Scooby spending most of their time with The Blue Falcon — who’s not even the original Blue Falcon, mind you, but the Blue Falcon’s cowardly son, Bryan — and his sidekick, a more cynical version of Dynomutt. Mark Wahlberg does a good job making Blue Falcon enjoyable to watch, but I really expected to see the Mystery, Inc. team together and not separated for most of the film. (Way too much focus is given to Blue Falcon, it seems.) While my memory of these Hanna-Barbera side characters is foggy at best, many of these characters seemed to barely resemble their original incarnations. And while Tracy Morgan is certainly a funny guy, and I’ve often enjoyed his schtick, it’s distracting to hear “Tracy Morgan” coming out of Captain Caveman. I understand the need to update things of the past to be relevant for modern times, but it they’re trying way too hard here. (The Blue Falcon even “dabs” during his grand introduction. Sigh.)
Scooby-Doo has always been a franchise that mixes comedy and horror quite well. As such, Scoob! has a fair amount of spooky moments, including a horde of mini Transformers-like robots that can change from bowling pins to scorpions to adorable doe-eyed little cherubs. Part of the story even takes us to an abandoned amusement park where Dastardly hunts Scooby. It’s creepy material for the young ones, but it fits in with what fans have come to expect from a Scooby-Doo story. However, there is some surprising adult humor that I certainly didn’t see coming. When Falcon and Shaggy are trying to figure out what to do next, Shaggy excitedly suggested they “drop some F-bombs,” to which Falcon says “Whoa, let’s try to keep it PG!” After revealing that he’s referring to “Falcon bombs,” Shaggy proceeds to shout “F bombs away!” as he tosses the explosive. Just a scene later, a joke is made about Falcon’s father’s memoir being titled “No Falcon Around” and his own follow-up, “Just Falcon Around,” which is spoken as a play on the “F” word. Lastly, Velma remarks that if something happens, “All hell breaks loose… literally.” And then there are a couple off-color remarks, like a joke about Falcon misunderstanding what Tinder is, the suggestive “Stay out of my search history!” that Dynomutt yells when he’s malfunctioning, and Dastardly trying to get Scooby to prounounce his name “Dick,” but it comes out like “Rick,” and the villain keeps yelling “Dick!” at Scooby in the process (it’s his name, yes, but it feels a little double-meaning in execution).
Scoob! will most likely appease diehard fans of the franchise–and, at the very least, Scooby is once again voiced by veteran voice actor Frank Welker (who also voiced the very first Fred Jones in the original 1969 show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!). The 4K UHD digital presentation is certainly beautiful to look at, and colorful to boot, but the animation seemed iffy at times–especially when the human characters were talking. So, if you’re expecting something extraordinary, I’d suggest lowering your expectations, but you could certainly do worse for afternoon, quarantined entertainment than Scoob!. It’s got its moments, but it’s definitely one of the lesser animated releases I’ve seen recently.
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/15/20)
iTunes / Digital Copy Bonus Features Review
Scoob! is now available on all digital platforms, but not yet in stores physically on disc. Warner Bros. actually already packed the digital release with some iTunes Extras, which was a nice surprise, so there are some fun extras to check out, including a bunch of deleted scenes.New Friends, Newer Villains (6:21) is about the Hanna-Barbera characters from various shows and series through the years that meet up in this film.
Bloopers (3:58) – This fun little blooper reel shows the voice cast messing up and goofing around in the studio while recording their lines.
How To Draw Scooby-Doo (10:17) – Director Tony Cervone shows us how to draw Scooby. I tried it out and it was easy to follow and pretty fun!
Puppies!! (1:03) is literally the main four adult voice cast members gushing over puppies for 60 seconds. In hindsight, it seems odd that, to round up the four main voice cast members, THIS is the only thing they did while together? (1 “oh my G-d”)
Deleted Scenes (20:33) – There are 20 minutes of deleted scenes. All of them are shown in rough, animated storyboard form. “Shaggy and Scoob Meet” was their first attempt at how the two first meet. We see a young Shaggy who has just moved to a new home and is lonely, so his parents take him to adopt a dog. He meets Scooby and loves him right away. (I think I like this version of them meeting better, but I understand if the filmmakers wanted something more exciting to happen for them to have met.) “Operation Maximum Candy with Minimum Effort” shows young Shaggy and Scooby trick-or-treating and Shaggy shares a calculated plan for getting the most candy on Halloween. “Dastardly in Peru” is a great scene that shows how he gets the first skull needed for his dastardly plan (and it should have stayed in the movie!). “Chef Shaggy” is a montage of them making an elaborate, and very gross, sandwich for the two of them. “Inside Scooby and Shaggy’s Minds” has Dee Dee accessing their brains and her reaction to what she sees is another awkward “F” word joke, “What the ffffudge?”, to which we see it’s basically a candy land (with fudge). In “Mischievous Mustache,” Dastardly struggles to comb his mustache the way he wants it. In “Shaggy Gets a New Friend,” he meets Grape Ape! But they’ve reinvented that character as well. “Dastardly Kidnaps the Gang” is an alternate take of the Fred, Velma and Daphne meeting Dastardly. “Escape from Island” is a little bit where Falcon and the kids adapt the Mystery Machine to be able fly. Finally, “Night Hounds” is an extension of the finale where ghostly dog people attack our heroes and they realize that a whistle can defeat them.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 5/16/20)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Dynomutt says “Bryan, last time you believed something on the Internet, you thought Tinder was an app that delivered firewood;” Dastardly tries to get Scooby to properly pronounce his first name, “Dick,” but Scooby says it as “Rick,” which causes Dastardly to repeatedly yell “Dick” at Scooby as he continues to reply with “Rick”; A beautiful, sexy blonde police officer stops the Mystery Machine, causing Fred to swoon. She then rips off her face to reveal it’s Dastardly in disguise, causing Fred to say he has so many mixed feelings; As he’s malfunctioning, Dynomutt yells “Stay out of my search history!”; Captain Caveman pulls on a rope on Scoob’s super suit that spins him and tears the suit off. He acts embarassed by his nakedness after.
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “cr*p”; Velma says “All hell breaks loose… literally”; Shaggy suggests to Falcon, “Let’s drops some F bombs!” and Falcon tells him, “Whoa! Let’s keep it PG!” and Shaggy corrects him that they’re “Falcon bombs.” As Shaggy throws one, he shouts “F bombs away!”; Falcon mentions his father’s memoir, “No Falcon Around,” and his own “Just Falcon Around”
Violence: Scooby steals gyro meat from a store window and is chased by a police officer through the town, causing some havoc; On Halloween, some kids on skateboards steal Shaggy and Scooby’s candy and throw it into a haunted house’s window; A scary ghost with white eyes jumps out of a wardrobe and chases the kids around the house. Fred throws an axe that cuts a rope and causes the “ghost” to fall. They tie him up and unmask him; A bowling ball comes alive as a robot and tries to bite Shaggy’s hand. The other balls turn into robot scorpions and chase them and shoot lasers at them, blowing up a TV monitor. They turn cute and then turn evil again with chainsaws as arms and chase Scooby and Shaggy down a bowling alley till they slide down it and crash into the wall. The robots cut through a door with chainsaws as they corner the pair in an alley. Before Scooby and Shaggy get attacked, they’re beamed up by a blue beam from a ship; Shaggy and Scoob pinch each other repeatedly to see if they’re dreaming; Dastardly hooks onto Falcon’s ship and they pull away, causing it to flip over and over. He then angrily hits some of his own robots; Dastardly rips the head off a robot and shoves a Dustbuster on top of it (as a new head); Shaggy and Scoob whack robots with mallets like a “Whack-A-Mole” game; Dastardly kicks a door open and shoots Shaggy with a laser; A Falcon bomb goes off, shocking a ferris wheel and causing it to fall off its hinges and roll into some buildings below; Dynomutt kicks Dastardly in the head; Dastardly is in a rollercoaster car with some of his robots when it goes off the track and crashes on the ground below; Dastardly’s robots grab and trap the kids and take them up to his ship; Dynomutt malfunctions and twists up and smashes his head on the ceiling of the ship; We see a flashbacl where Muttley gets trapped on other side of a portal, much to Dastardly’s dismay; We see a large Venus fly trap plant eating a bug; Captain Caveman hits Falcon with a mallet and throws him into a wall. Captain Caveman jumps on a rock that falls on Falcon; Captain Caveman pulls on a rope on Scoob’s super suit that spins him and tears the suit off; Dynomutt shoots rockets at Captain Caveman which throws him into a wall, leaving a hole in it; Dastardly, disguised as Fred, kicks Shaggy down to the ground; Dastardly ropes Scoob and holds a laser gun on him. He throws the rest of the gang out of a plane and they’re caught; We see a smashed ship on the ground; The van is shot out of the sky. Dynomutt tries to slow its descent and it crashes on the ground in flames; A giant, ghostly three-headed dog beast comes out of temple doors; Dastardly hits Muttley on the head who chomps on his leg; Fred charges the beast and it flicks him with its toe, causing him to go flying through the air; The beast swats Dynomutt who crashes; Dastardly’s robots attack the beast; Falcon punches the beast; The beast trips on the robots disguised as balls and falls.