Scoob! Gets Scooby-Doo Right--but Nobody Else

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Scoob Bluray

The first trailer for SCOOB! looked promising. We saw a stray pup find a friend, and we saw a lonely kid find a team. If this had stayed with that, an adolescent version of Mystery Inc, things might have gone a lot better, because it really was one of the better parts of the film.

But time moves quickly on from there, and Mystery Inc. develops a name for itself. So much so, in fact, that Simon Cowell himself comes to fund the expansion of the franchise -- provided they get rid of the 'dead weight' of Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker). Feeling dejected, Shag and Scoob head for their favorite hangout, the local bowling alley, where they are quickly attacked by robotic bowling pins. Running for their lives, they are abducted by a weird blue light that lifts them into the air and into...the Falcon Fury, the airborne ride of Shaggy's favorite superhero, Blue Falcon. But this Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) is the son of the original, and while he's big on presentation and having fun, he's not so great at doing the actual hero thing. BF is still accompanied by Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), but in this iteration of the team, Dynomutt is the smart, rational one who is always bailing out Blue Falcon, instead of the other way around as was the original cartoon series.

New to the crew -- at least, new to this crew -- is Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemons), the pilot of the Falcon Fury, and all-around science wizard and battle ninja. Dee Dee is a lift from the old Captain Caveman cartoons, but when we actually meet Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan) in this movie, he is perhaps the character furthest removed from his original version, and that was very disappointing. The opportunity was there for this to be a first meeting of the Captain and his first "teen angel" with Dee Dee, setting things up for a branching out of other Hanna-Barbera adventure films, but the opportunity was wasted.

The plot involves the schemes of Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), who is trying to obtain the three keys to the Underworld and release the ghost of the three-headed hound, Cerberus, while also accessing the treasure behind the mystic door. He has another reason as well, which is more personal, but that's best discovered by watching the film.

Eventually, the rest of the gang -- Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) and Velma (Gina Rodriguez) track down their missing teammates, just in time for a cataclysmic and tragic fix to the problem. And that's really the biggest crime of this film. By introducing actual dramatic elements, the producers paint themselves into corners that they have to etract themselves from by falling back on the deus ex machina tropes that the cartoon-logic universe offers, and that weakens the film tremendously.

SCOOB! tries to throw in some bits for the adults, as most successful kids cartoons will do. Dick Dastardly disguises himself as a comely police officer, and the revelation of the disguise leaves Fred with mixed feelings. Later, we see the Blue Falcon's father has written a biography titled 'No Falcon Around' while his son's bio is 'Just Falcon Around.' 

The film also offers Easter eggs for the ardent fans. Dick Dastardly's secret lair is on Messick Mountain, a hat tip to Don Messick, the original voice of Scooby (as well as a host of other familiar characters). The arcade at the abandoned amusement park is filled with posters and pinball games that pay tribute to Saturday morning shows of the past, as well as past Scooby guests like the supernatural rockers, Hex Girls. However, while this may bring back wistful smiles, the changes to Blue Falcon and Captain Caveman are nearly insurmountable as they are so far from who the characters should be. The ending credits almost make up for this, as we see other Hanna-Barbera adventurers appear, in sketch form, like Frankenstein Junior and Jonny Quest. And while I'd love to see these characters be given their time to shine, I think they may have had their best outing in DC Comics "Future Quest" series of books -- including Scooby's own book, "Scooby Apocalypse."

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0