Reviewed October 21st, 2002 by Brian White
If you are anything like me, Scooby Doo did not jump out as a “Must See” movie. In fact, when I saw the ads, I really could not believe that they even made this picture. Did the Scooby character need to evolve into a new medium, or was Warner Bros. just looking to make a buck? The movie certainly has that cookie-cutter summer movie vibe: hot young actors, BIG budget, and it’s a nostalgia flick aimed at teenagers.
Once again, I was wrong. I had very low expectations about the picture. A friend suggested that it is better than I thought, so I gave it a try. Perhaps as a result of my low expectations, I was really entertained and amused by this picture. It is perfectly silly. Any movie that achieves everything it sets out to do is fantastic in my books. This is the best Scooby Doo movie that could have been made. It both captures the spirit of the animated show, and mocks it quite well. The opening sequence of the flick is enough to win you over if you have ever seen the show. We see the typical ending of a Scooby Doo episode, where a crazy plan is executed to catch the bad guy. This is not actually the ghost that is suggested, but a crusty old caretaker who used technology to suggest something supernatural. Moreover, he would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those pesky kids and their stupid dog! Scooby Dooby Doo!
Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Daphne, the “stereotypical pretty girl.” Mr. Gellar, Freddy Prinze Jr., plays Fred. Matthew Lillard is hilarious as Shaggy. Linda Cardellini is quite good as Thelma. The kids are given a little more personality here. Prinze Jr. is actually pretty brave to play a dolt like Fred. The kids resent the egomaniac Fred taking all their glory, and the troupe breaks up. After a while, they are forced to reunite to solve a mystery that has been plaguing a, surprise, haunted amusement park! Jinkies!
One of the reasons that this flick works is that it is not entirely a conversion from its cartoon roots to live action. You have a CGI Scooby bridging the gap between live action and animation. The effect is great. He has all the facial expressions, and physical humor that he did in the cartoon. It is not entirely photo-realistic, but the genre is forgiving enough. One of the filmmakers discusses the effect in the documentary, saying that they wanted the character to be recognizable as Scooby Doo while still looking like a dog. Scooby’s physicality is more canine than it was in the cartoon.
Other standing jokes about the characters are suggested, such as Thelma’s “preferences” and Shaggy’s love of a given herb. All and all, the cast looks like they are having a blast, and this is a fun movie to watch. It loses steam, like all TV-to-film conversions, but it still manages to do its job well. Added to all this, you see Gellar kick some major booty, almost Buffy style.
The transfer for DVD is as good as you would expect from a big budget summer flick. This is a very colorful film, and the sets are very interesting. All of this is represented quite well in the 1.85:1, anamorphic transfer. The disc is available separately in a full screen version. This review is based on the widescreen disc.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is active enough in all of the action scenes. The score uses spooky choir sounds, and they are mixed nicely throughout the mix, as is the music from the soundtrack CD. The mix complements the movie quite well.
For extras, there is a behind-the-scenes featurette that has interview footage with the actors, and filmmakers, as well as some of the people behind the original cartoon. Deleted scenes are included with commentary. The most interesting deletion is the original animated titles sequence. A commentary with director Raja Gosnell and the two producers is included. This is more anecdotal than technical, and is full of great information about the making of the flick down under. More entertaining is the cast commentary, which has the four cast members watching the film and sharing their insights. A game and a music video are also included.
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