Scooby-Doo Review

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The world-famous Mystery Inc. disbands after internal pressures force them apart, but they are brought together again by the enigmatic theme park owner, Mondavarius, to solve the mystery of 'Spooky Island'


Zoinks! Who let the dog out? The world has, apparently, been waiting for a live-action 'Scooby-Doo' film for 33 long years (that's 231 years for canines). And the good news is, it's finally here. The bad news is, it's directed by the guy who gave us 'Big Momma's House' and stars Freddie Prinze Jr.. And it's clearly not the Scooby-Doo we know and love.

Which is fair enough, because for 310 episodes (or seemingly one episode on a perpetual loop), the 'Scooby-Doo' we do know and love went something like this: Mystery Inc. - four humans and a talking dog - investigate a spooky haunting; find out said haunting was perpetrated by Old Man Smithers; end of mystery. And that does not a 90-minute movie make.

So 'Scooby-Doo: The Movie' gets the conventional mystery-solving stuff out of the way immediately, with a gaudy, shoddily-staged opening sequence which raises the miserable spectre of Warner Bros farragoes past, like 'The Avengers' and (shudder) 'Batman & Robin'.

Luckily, it soon improves, branching out into a postmodern, Brady Bunch-esque reimagining, in which Fred is an arrogant egotist, Daphne turns into an ass-kicking Buffy-a-like and Velma is stifled by her spinster image. Only Shaggy and Scooby, the eternal innocents, are left untouched. It's tinkering which could have worked, had not the film been pitched squarely at the under-tens.

Anyone looking for sophistication from a movie which features a two minute-long farting contest between man and CG dog is going to be sorely disappointed. And what nods there are to the oldies aren't exactly subtle.

Ever wondered why Shaggy and Scooby were so hungry? It's because they're druggies! But because they can't show drug use, here's Scooby snacks - in a baggie! And Shaggy's love interest is called Mary Jane! Oh, the wit! Oh, our aching ribs! Bring back the farting dog! Or not.

Because Scooby himself is the movie's trump card and chump card all in one. Although recognisably Scoob in deed, voice and mannerisms, the CG never really integrates convincingly. It's baffling to think why director Gosnell - who never uses light brushstrokes where a chuffing great roller would do - plumped for a cross between photo-realistic 3D and the old cartoon animation, when a traditional 2D Scoob would have worked perfectly within the context of a live-action cartoon.

Performance-wise, Prinze Jr. and Gellar are blandly acceptable. But it's fitting that, for a movie which champions the (under) dog, it's Lillard and Cardellini who take centre stage, with performances which channel their cartoon counterparts perfectly.

In fact, they deserve a lot better than the shoddy material - a couple of zingers aside - on display. Because frankly, any movie which 'boasts' a Pamela Anderson cameo probably belongs in the doghouse.

If you’re eight. For everyone else, there’s precious little respite, apart from one or two clever touches, the superb Lillard, and the movie’s length. At 90 minutes long, it’s painless. Relatively.