Scoob! Review: A Violent Update to the Classic Cartoon
Zoinks! Scooby-Doo and the gang from Mystery Inc. get a modern update with a few throwback nods. Scoob! begins as an origin story, then launches into a surprisingly action packed adventure. Classic Hanna-Barbera characters join the fray with mixed results. The goofy innocence of the beloved cartoon takes second stage to slick CGI animation. Scoob! is a raucous spectacle of elaborate chase scenes. It’s a fun ride to see, but lacks heart.
A hungry stray puppy steals a rack of shawarma from a shop on Venice Beach. The adorable Great Dane collides with young Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, a lonely kid with no friends. Shaggy adopts the pooch on the spot. He’s forced to think of a quick name. Scooby Dooby Doo (Frank Welker) has found a home and best friend. That night on Halloween, the now inseparable pair meet a trio of other children at a supposedly haunted house.
Years later, Shaggy (Will Forte), Fred (Zac Efron), Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), Velma (Gina Rodriguez), and Scooby-Doo are now detectives. The group decides to make their business official as Mystery Inc. They get harsh advice from a famous celebrity. Shaggy and Scooby are dead weight. They offer nothing to the group, and must be dropped if Mystery Inc. is to truly succeed.
Shaggy and Scooby leave in a huff. Their lamenting is cut short by an attack from the villainous Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) and his army of robots. The pair are rescued by the new Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt the Dog Wonder (Ken Jeong), and their assistant, Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemons). Dick Dastardly has been collecting the skulls of ancient dogs. He needs Scooby to fulfill his nefarious plans.
Scoob! drives a wedge between Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. The besties are placed in an uncomfortable position. Shaggy has no problems continuously running away from danger. Scooby wants to turn over a new leaf and be heroic. This is a complete deviation for the primary character. Scooby and Shaggy are predictably cowardly. This is their essential nature and source of humor. Scooby-Doo wanting to kick ass felt unnatural. Call me old-fashioned, but a tough Scooby is a bridge too far.
Scoob! opens with a chase and never lets up off the throttle. Dick Dastardly’s S.S. Dirty Tricks is now a colossal aircraft that dogfights the Falcon Fury. His robots transform and attack with menacing chainsaws. A supernatural climax is easily the most violent scene in all of Scooby-Doo. The animators deserve credit for their work, but the tone of Scoob! is too aggressive. Action is the clear focus of the film. It shouldn’t be.
A couple of supporting characters nearly steal the show. Mark Wahlberg gets a few chuckles as the bumbling Blue Falcon Jr. Amanda Seyfried’s Daphne gains a robot friend in the only sweet subplot. Scoob! needed more of this warmth. I was moderately entertained, but hope for a less combative Scooby-Doo in future films. Scoob! is a production of Warner Animation Group. It is available to stream on demand from Warner Bros.