Flashback Review: Scooby-Doo (2002)

In 1969, an animated television series developed by Hanna-Barbera called, “Scooby-Doo” aired on CBS. The show centers around a group of teenagers and a dog forming their own investigations tracking down a masked man posing as a ghost, ghoul, monster, alien, zombie or robot as they search for clues to uncover the culprit. Once they gather enough evidence, they form a trap. Thus, the perpetrator is unmasked and says the infamous “I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.”

Scooby-Doo is the title character. A cowardly, lovable Great Dane with a big appetite who always overcomes his fears with the help of his loyal cowardly best friend Shaggy alongside their friends Fred, the leader of the group, Velma, the brains behind their strategy & Daphne who’s always treated like bait in order to capture the culprit. The show’s format is basically repetitive telling the same episode again and again without any variation like Power Rangers repeating the same formula in almost every episode you can find.

Regardless of redoing the same story, Scooby-Doo spawned a franchise consisting of numerous direct-to-video films, merchandise, comics, video games, & different iterations of the shows like “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo,” “What’s New Scooby-Doo” & Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated.” As a result of the original show’s success, Hanna-Barbera recycled the recycled premise involving teenagers and a comical character in other works most notably “Jabberjaw,” “Speed Buggy,” “Captain Caveman” just to name a few. Scooby-Doo remains as an icon of pop culture.

A live action film was later produced by Warner Bros. (WB for short) starring Matthew Lillard, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini & Freddie Prinze Jr.

Scooby-Doo was released in 2002. (same year The Bourne Identity came out) It received negative reviews from critics and fans alike. Despite labeled as a critical flop, it managed to make enough money at the box office. A sequel titled, “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” came out in 2004.

An animated reboot titled, “Scoob” focusing on The Scooby Gang’s origin story opening their first case. It will be the first installment of the Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe, the equivalent of WB’s DC Extended Universe & MonsterVerse. This time it will focus on cartoon characters originally created by Hanna-Barbera.

Today’s review contains many SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen Scooby-Doo’s first cinematic film, read at your own risk.

Positive & Negative Elements

Positive: Matthew Lillard, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini & Freddie Prinze Jr. all did a great job for their respective performances. Matt deserves an Extra Point for his portrayal as Shaggy. He was born to play the role. Matt later voiced Shaggy in several cartoons. Too bad WB replaced him with Will Forte in the upcoming reboot.

Other Cast Members such as Isla Fisher & Rowan Atkinson both did a good job for their respective performances.

Cinematography never had a base case of Shaky Cam.

Set Pieces actually resembles an-over-the-top location where a villain is hiding.

The film surprisingly subverts some tropes from the cartoon. For example, The Scooby Gang quit because they could no longer handle the same shtick over and over again as in many episodes and direct-to-video movies.

Scooby & Shaggy’s burping/farting contest nearly made me lose my breath from severe laughter. Their scene definitely deserves Bonus Points.

OutKast wrote a song for the film called, “Land Of A Million Drums.” There’s a music video of Andre 3000 & Big Boi encountering Shaggy with Matt reprising his role.

Isla Fisher’s character is named, Mary Jane. Coincidentally, “Spider-Man” came out the same year as Scooby-Doo. Both films have a love interest named, Mary Jane.

Pamala Anderson makes a cameo appearance. A nod to many a selected famous person who made a guest appearance on “The New Scooby-Doo Movies.”

Unlike the cartoon, Daphne is capable of defending herself in combat. An inside-joke to “Buffy The Vampire Slayer:”

Shaggy said, “I have a bad feeling about this.” A reference to a recurring line from “Star Wars.” “Attack Of The Clones” also came out in 2002.

Scrappy-Doo (not gonna lie he’s my favorite character from the show) said, “I’m as cute as a Powerpuff Girl. Blossom, Bubbles & Buttercup also had their cinematic debut. A wink by WB, they’re associated with Cartoon Network.

At the end of the movie, Scooby & Shaggy eat chili peppers. A reference to the duo eating hot peppers from “Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island.”

Negative: Visual Effects haven’t aged pretty well. The Body Snatchers are obviously fake. Back in 2002, C.G.I. were a hit and miss. “The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers” went home with an Oscar courtesy of Peter Jackson’s effects company Weta Digital.

You’ll be shocked, James Gunn (Guardians Of The Galaxy, Slither, Super) wrote the screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. I have to give him tough love, it’s not easy making it to Hollywood. We gotta start somewhere to make a living.

Whenever a Body Snatcher takes over a specific person’s body, they speak outdated phrases nobody says anymore. It’s as cringeworthy as Adam Sandler saying “Wassup” in “That’s My Boy.”

Chemistry between Shaggy & Mary Jane felt flat. I never cared about their relationship. It’s another recycled romance with Shaggy dating a girl who’s never mentioned or seen again. I prefer Peter Parker & Mary Jane Watson’s chemistry in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy.

Scooby disguises himself as an old lady to pass through airport security. Everybody outside Fred, Shaggy, Velma & Daphne ignores the fact Scooby is conspicuously dressed as an old lady. Dana Carvey can fool anybody in that god awful spy movie “The Master Of Disguise.”

When Fred’s soul is inside Daphne’s body, first thing he wants to do is to look at her nude. We get Freddie, you married Buffy, did some “baby making” and have a family. Is this supposed to be a kids movie or James Gunn’s tweets of his Scooby-Doo fan fiction?

Scrappy-Doo is the main antagonist of the film. His motive didn’t quite flesh out. After Scrappy peed on Daphne, (possibly a reference to R. Kelly peeing on a girl) Scooby-Doo and his friends kicked him out of The Mystery Machine. In the cartoon, Scrappy never acted too obnoxious in front of his friends, he’s willing to take a risk to capture a guy in a costume, because it’s the right thing to do. He’s way braver than Scooby & Shaggy. I have no choice but to Double Down this con for making Scrappy-Doo as the villain. He’s my personal favorite. I don’t understand why he’s hated by fans of the show.

The Final Verdict: C, FOR CONFOUNDED!

Scooby-Doo’s big screen debut is a mixed bag for me. It’s not a really good or an epic failure. Just a disappointment for not treating Scrappy-Doo as a good guy. If you want to introduce your kids to Scooby’s first cinematic film before Scoob comes out with a specified release date, so be it.

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