A pleasant feature-length Scooby story for a new generation, Scoob! doesn’t offer much for adults or nostalgia-seekers.
Scoob! review — Grade: B
There’s nothing wrong with a kids’ movies that is 100 percent for kids. A reboot whose simple purpose is to revisit a classic property with the latest animation technology for the youngest generation. Sure, it may never reach the critical or cultural acclaim of a Toy Story, Shrek, Finding Nemo or Coco — movies that offered heart and humor that resonated with audiences of all ages — but kids will probably like Scoob! , and isn’t that point?
The story is simple. Boy meets dog. Boy and dog make friends. Friends solve mystery. “I would have gotten away with it, too!” etc. Smash cut to adulthood driving a wedge into the group. Smash cut to interest and appreciation from superheroes (?) driving a wedge in the friendship. Simultaneously, of course: There’s an evil villain. A plot to kidnap Scooby to open up a portal to the underworld because, as it turns out, Scooby is a direct descendant of Alexander the Great’s best friend. Things fall apart and come back together; the power of friendship is the name of the game, and sure, the ending could make a grown dog lover cry.
Scoob! is, above all things, modern. When the young Mystery Inc. crew meet trick-or-treating, they are in distinctly of-the-moment (and in-character) costumes: Velma is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Daphne is Wonder Woman, etc. (That said, the inclusion of Simon Cowell voicing himself as the would-be celebrity investor ruthlessly evaluating their strengths and weaknesses seems distinctly dated.) The elimination of Fred and Daphne’s flirtation is welcome — especially after Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated overcorrection — Fred’s love of his van is both weird and cute. Mostly, it feels just updated enough to pass the sniff test for kids these days.
The cast is particularly disappointing. With Zac Efron (Fred), Amanda Seyfried (Daphne), Gina Rodriguez (Velma), Ken Jeong (a new character, Dynomutt) and Kiersey Clemons (the similarly new Dee Dee) lending their voices, you really wish they could have brought a little more character and energy to the roles. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s that they hardly make the characters their own in any discernible way. Will Forte does better as Shaggy and Tracy Morgan is a standout in a cameo as Captain Caveman but all in all, the vocal performances leave a lot to be desired. (Scooby is voiced by long-time Scooby, Frank Welker. To quote another cartoon, no notes!)
There is ultimately not much more to say about Scoob! It’s a fine movie, there’s nothing objectionable about it and as an introduction to Scooby Doo, you could do much worse. A viewer’s enjoyment is no doubt inversely proportional to their age and fair enough: It is, after all, a kids’ movie — plain and simple.
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