Scoob! (the exclamation point is part of the title, unfortunately), has been long in the works over at Warner Animation Group. Envisioned as part of a larger ‘Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe’, the film serves as a reboot of sorts for the franchise, the last theatrical release of which was the forgettable Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed back in 2004. Although there have been plenty of made-for-TV and home video releases, Scoob! was planned to release in theaters this week, but global circumstances, of course, have pushed it to a direct-to-digital release.
Part origin story, part continuation of the franchise, Scoob! starts off by telling the story of how a preteen Shaggy befriends Scooby-Doo and how the Mystery, Inc. gang joined forces. In the present day, Mystery, Inc. decides that they need to establish themselves as a more serious crime fighting, mystery-solving crew, for which they need funds. As Scooby and Shaggy are pushed aside (a celebrity investor calls them the weak links), they realize that they are, in fact, part of a larger plot involving Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, Dick Dastardly, and ancient Greek mythology.
From the get-go, the film knows that its target audience is fans of the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons. At the same time, it does a stellar job of pandering to a newer, younger audience, who might be meeting Scooby for the first time. There are plenty of visual gags, complete with cartoony sound effects directly lifted from classic Scooby- Doo episodes. The film is packed with cameos and easter eggs featuring classic Hanna-Barbera characters, and one can’t help but squeal with delight seeing nostalgic faces in a 2020 film. If the Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe does in fact become a reality, we’re in for some seriously cool throwbacks.
The animation is crisp and fluid, opting for a more plasticky, cartoony look that takes some time to get used to but still ends up being visually pleasing. Frank Welker is endearing as the iconic voice of Scooby, while Will Forte’s performance as Shaggy is memorable too. In particular, the voice acting is top-notch, with Jason Isaacs (Dick Dastardly), Zac Efron (Fred), and Mark Wahlberg (Blue Falcon) being some of the standouts. Also delightful is Kiersey Clemons as Dee Dee Sykes. A throwback sequence that reimagines the famous Scooby Doo, Where Are You? opening sequence is an absolute knockout.
The film is far from perfect, however, because it seems more concerned with turning a classic cartoon mystery into something more akin to a superhero movie. Blue Falcon ends up hogging much of the screentime, which would have been better spent with Fred, Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), and Velma (this time Latina, played by Gina Rodriguez), all three of whom are delightful and share a memorable dynamic, in the little we see of them. Finally, the story leaves much to be desired. At times, it feels like it’s juggling too much at once, with a superhero story, a mystery, historical references, and celebrity and throwback cartoon cameos, to name a few, without really narrowing in on what the exact mission of the film is.
At the end of the day, Scoob! does manage to find a ton of heart under its wacky, colourful surface. The filmmakers and animators perfectly capture the essence of what makes Scooby-Doo adventures so fun, treating the franchise and its connected universe with evident reverence and care. The film is a sweet, funny, and much needed reminder of just how much the world needs friendship and togetherness during trying times. Scoob! may not be a pedigree, but it’s most likely the fuzziest animated film you’ll watch this year.
Scoob! is directed by Tony Cervone with a screenplay by Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson, Derek Elliott and Matt Lieberman. It is available on-demand and for purchase on all major digital platforms.
Have you seen Scoob! yet? Let us know what you think!
Edited by: Kelly Conley