Imitation of Life (Scoob!, 2020)

So, originally, May was bringing the first theatrical Scooby Doo film in over a decade.  Thanks to a Pandemic (and no doubt a hope by the studio to replicate the success of Trolls World Tour on VOD) it is instead reaching us in our homes.

Scoob_Poster

Opening with a tale of how the gang met, the film jumps to the present, where an investor wants to financially support the Mystery Inc gang…as long as they leave out Shaggy and Scooby. Before the gang knows what is happening, Scooby and Shaggy run off on their own. When the two are attacked by robots, they are rescued by the Blue Falcon and his trusty partners Deedee and Dynomutt.

At first the duo are thrilled at the idea of hanging out with their favorite super-hero, but as Scooby seems to be drawn towards the Falcon’s adventure, Shaggy starts to become jealous. At the same time the Blue Falcon is doubting himself as a hero, fearing he can never match up to his father, the previous Blue Falcon. All the while the rest of the gang is trying to locate Scooby and Shaggy before the villain Dick Dastardly does so that he can unveil his evil master plan.

Scoob! is entertaining, though probably, kids will enjoy it far more than adults. The plot gets a little convoluted, eschewing the traditional Scooby Doo format of a simple mystery that needs unmasking and goes for a big and over the top plot.  It is pretty clear that part of the purpose of Scoob! was to set up a Hannah-Barbara extended universe of films. And that sometimes overtakes the film.  Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley are here…we meet Captain Caveman and the end credits suggest future appearances by characters such as Jabberjaw and Atom Ant.

The film is trying really hard to be current and hip, which generally fails to work. I watched Scoob! with my nephews.  They actually liked the film…but when we are introduced to the Blue Falcon, he dabs.  My nine year old nephew states (and this is a direct quote) “He dabbed!!! That is SO SAD!!!! Nobody dabs anymore!”

Another area that hurt the film for me a bit was the voice cast. Since the death of Casey Kasem, Matthew Lillard has provided the voice of Shaggy.  And he really is the voice (and managed to really capture the feel in the live action films as well).  Grey Delisle Griffin has been the voice of Daphne Blake for nearly twenty years.  I get that they are trying to be a new youthful take, but kids don’t see movies for the voice actors. And no disrespect is meant to Will Forte…but the end result here is that Shaggy sounds like someone trying to approximate the sound of Shaggy. I feel like it is a bit of a loss on our part that Lillard and DeLisle Griffin were not invited to return.  It is pretty clear both love the characters and that is just missing here. While it is very clear they were disappointed, both actors have responded with a lot of grace.

One thing I did really like is the basic animation style. It walks a nice line of bringing the 2D animation to life.  I really enjoy how they recreated the original opening Scooby Doo, Where Are You? title opener in the new style, so we get some fun throwbacks to the classic Scooby Doo monsters. And there is some neat 2D art used with the end credits.

Overall, Scoob! is not a disaster, but it is a whole more likely to entertain kids more than those with affection for the classic mystery solving team.

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