Scoob! (2020) Review

I thought I had no expectations when I went into Scoob! – a new animated feature that would’ve hit cinemas instead of VOD if it weren’t for that pesky C-virus – I went into it knowing only that, for whatever reason, Matthew Lillard wasn’t contacted about voicing Shaggy – but watching the events that unfold in the film, I realised what I was looking for was a charming throwback to the original series.

Scoob! isn’t that throwback to the original series. At least, not after the first 10-12 minutes of the film, in which we see younger versions of the gang come together on a spooky Halloween evening. No, it is something else – an event film to Hanna-Barbera. A classic one shot featuring characters from your childhood.

In its drive to meet the expectations of the young and old – a Tinder joke here, the feel of Marvel there – the film ends up feeling decidedly different from the original series and more of a film set to ride the wave for the popular superhero movie.

The problem here, for me anyway, was that Scooby Doo and the gang feel like secondary characters in their own film. The spirit of their series, something even the 2002 film – with all its weird energy – captured, feels missing.

I feel like the writers of the film – Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson, Derek Elliot and Matt Lieberman – must’ve forgot what made this Hanna Barbera entertaining and charming – or just didn’t care about that in adapting it here. For me, that is the biggest flaw of this one – that it’s too busy that it loses its charm and sight of what made these characters so endearing.

It doesn’t help the film that the jokes along the way feel outdated and odd. Why Simon Cowell shows up for a cameo and to get the plot rolling, I do not know. Why one particular characters dabs in his entrance, I do not know either.

The jokes across the 99 minute running time feel very hit and miss, from touching on the old slapstick humour of the cartoons briefly to repeated Simon Cowell or American Idol gags. It often starts to feel like Alan Parrish in Jumanj watching the film. I wanted to blurt out “What year is it?!”

When it comes to the voice work, it is a bit hit and miss. Zach Efron and Amanda Seyfried are fun, though I do wish Amanda leaned in on her Mean Girls prep a bit more for Daphne. Jason Isaacs as Dastardly Dick is a lot of fun as well and brings some evil glee to the character. Gina Rodriguez, I think, does the best she can with Velma but doesn’t quite reach the nerdy heights – a scripting issue, perhaps? Lastly, Will Forte is solid as Shaggy. I feel like he’s going to get a lot of crap from fans but as Shaggy, he does his own thing while paying homage to the beloved characters original voice actor Casey Kasem. I think he’s fine in the role but I can see how his twist on the vocalisations will put some fans off.

Despite nice animation and a few fun gags that harken back to the original series, Scoob! is a dispiriting movie. It might entertain families and young ones on the fly but for me, I’d rather pick out the original series or try my luck with the other animated films. This just doesn’t feel like a Scooby Doo adventure to me.

J’s VERDICT: ☆☆

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