REVIEW: ‘SCOOB!’ is All About Friendship

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SCOOB!

The Scooby-Doo franchise has had a special place in my heart since I was a little kid. Previously, I wrote about my love for the franchise in my review of Scooby Apocalypse #33. This is one of the few franchises that I’ve wholeheartedly decided to follow and enjoy any of its new releases. A major element that I adore about this series is the bond between Shaggy and Scooby. Their friendship is something that I aspired to have when I was younger. Because of their friendship, I was able to gain confidence in meeting many of my childhood friends. With all of this in mind, I was overjoyed that another film, SCOOB!, was being released.

SCOOB!, which is directed by Tony Cervone, is the latest film released for video-on-demand rather than a planned theatrical release as a result of COVID-19. The movie opens with a new origin of how Myster Inc. came together. We then see the gang planning to expand the cases that they take on and meet with Simon Cowell for help. Since Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby (Frank Welker) normally cause hijinks while the team conducts investigations, Cowell believes the team can work without them. Feeling abandoned,  Scooby and Shaggy leave the meeting and decide to go bowling. However, things take a turn for the worse when they’re attacked by evil robots.

Fortunately, they’re saved by Blue Falcon’s son Brian (Mark Wahlberg), who has taken on the Blue Falcon mantel. Along with Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) and Dynomut (Ken Jeong), Brian informs Shaggy and Scooby that they’re being targeted by Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs). They join forces to figure out what Dastardly’s true intentions are. As this is happening, Fred (Zac Efron), Velma (Gina Rodriguez), and Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) are on a mission to rescue Shaggy and Scooby.

The was a huge uproar when the voice cast for SCOOB! was announced. One of the main complaints that a lot of fans of this beloved franchise had was that Matthew Lillard, who had played as Shaggy in two live-action films and voiced the character since 2010, was not cast in the film. While I’ve come to appreciate Lillard’s portrayal of Shaggy, Forte brought his own take on the character rather than just resorting to copying what had already been done. It’s a unique voice on the character and I’m looking forward to seeing if Forte will come back to voice the character again. As for the rest of the main cast, I enjoyed their respective takes on the other members of Mystery Inc. What surprised me the most was that Velma had been written as a Latinx character and spoke Spanish. While I’m all for representation, this felt quite forced since her identity was never really addressed. Having her just speak a few lines in Spanish isn’t the sort of representation that I, being a Mexican Spanish speaker, am looking for.

SCOOB!

The bond between Scooby and Shaggy is the essential element of the film, rather than the group dynamic of Mystery Inc. There have been other films and shows that attempted to establish a new origin for this dynamic duo but none of them captured the right amount of emotion the way Scoob! does. Here, it was something that I could relate to. I just wish that the origin was given a bit more time to bring out even more emotion. As the movie progresses, their friendship is put to the test because of the situation they’re in. This is something that viewers who have had arguments with their best friends will surely relate to. This relatability is such an integral part of why I truly enjoyed this film.

There are numerous references, easter eggs, and sly jokes in SCOOB! that caught me by surprise. Whether it was characters owned by Hanna-Barbera Productions or just general pop culture references, these references are there for people to enjoy. It might take multiple viewings to catch all the references that are made, especially since there are some that go by very quickly. As for the sly jokes, they’re aimed for the adults that may be watching the film with their kids or just for older fans. There aren’t an overwhelming number of instances that use this kind of humor though, which I’m sure many parents will appreciate. Additionally, the music selection in SCOOB!, especially the Best Coast cover of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? theme song, was superb. Except for a bit of a rocky start with the opening music.

Having watched the majority of the trailers that were released since November 2019, I went in expecting a story that focused much more on the members of Mystery Inc. and the bond they’ve made as a group. However, I was disappointed to see that Velma, Fred, and Daphne aren’t as important to the main plot of the story.  The focus is put on Shaggy and Scooby as they team up with other heroes to foil a villain’s plot. The trailers should have made it clear that this would essentially be a story about Shaggy and Scooby and not focusing on the entire Scooby Gang.

One thing became clear to me as the movie progressed. I truly believe that the story told in this film would have been more effective as a TV series. I understand that shows like A Pup Named Scooby-Doo have focused on Mystery Inc. during their middle school years, but the origin established in SCOOB! definitely deserves to be expanded on. In a TV series, there could be several flashbacks that establish more about the group and how they came together as a group as time progressed. The idea of Mystery Inc. seeking out bigger cases is quickly dropped in the film, but this could definitely be expanded on as well. I’m not sure if the film’s cast would commit to that idea, but I think there’s much more story to be told.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching SCOOB!. While I was excited by the trailers, I couldn’t help but be a bit nervous about how the finished product would play out. It had a bit of a rocky start with its opening music selection, but any worries disappeared after Shaggy and Scooby met. The new members of the voice cast do a great job in their portrayal of these beloved characters by adding unique elements rather than just copying what was done in the past. Scooby and Shaggy’s friendship as the main focus of the film is incredible and brings about moments of relatability. Ultimately, this is a film that I’d recommend for anyone to watch.

SCOOB! is available for purchase or rent wherever videos on demand are available.

SCOOB!
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

I really enjoyed watching SCOOB!. While I was excited by the trailers, I couldn’t help but be a bit nervous about how the finished product would play out. It had a bit of a rocky start with its opening music selection, but any worries disappeared after Shaggy and Scooby met. The new members of the voice cast do a great job in their portrayal of these beloved characters by adding unique elements rather than just copying what was done in the past. Scooby and Shaggy’s friendship as the main focus of the film is incredible and brings about moments of relatability. Ultimately, this is a film that I’d recommend for anyone to watch.