Written by: Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson, Derek Elliott, Matt Lieberman
Starring: Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried
The use of intellectual property to gain interest in a project makes sense for a studio’s business model as familiarity further assists in people spending their well-earned money for entertainment. However, utilizing a particular IP known for a specific style of storytelling and completely doing something out of the realm for purely cynical reasons makes me yearn for bad remakes instead. Scoob! shows this practice at its worst.
Befriending each other at a young age Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) have grown with a love for food and doing nothing else in life. Now as an adult and older dog, they are seen as unnecessary with the gang seeking an investor for their investigatory skills. This leads to them getting sucked into a space adventure where they get to prove their worth.
As someone who grew up watching Scooby-Doo, I have fond memories for the procedural manner of the show where they would go to a haunted place, find the apparent ghost, and then unmask them for the unruly adult trying to cause havoc on their own. The show definitely had its charm, especially when looking at the individual characters’ tendencies. Shaggy and Scooby always bring the comedy and they were rightfully the focal point of the story. Everyone loves a good human-dog story, but the direction this film takes proves to be unforgivable. Instead of having any elements of what made the series beloved, the screenwriters and executives decided to make this into an empty calorie superhero space extravaganza. It does not fit the spirit of these characters and it feels completely shameless and hollow.
Nothing about these characters warrant the type of story this film employs but I cannot help but think about the superhero genre’s influence on everything and how it has spilled over into this film. I’m all for franchises to get more ambitious but once something goes to space, you just know creativity has hit rock bottom. It’s the equivalent of Star Wars taking place in an Arby’s. No logical reason for it other than adding in some superhero that seemed to be just a toy at the beginning of the feature but actually exists. Scooby-Doo, as a series, focuses on disproving hauntings and how manipulative adults are always behind these schemes; it’s literally the whole point. To take this intellectual property and weld it as some space adventure completely betrays these characters and what they represent.
The lack of success is truly shameful because the beginning has such a sweetness to it with how Shaggy and Scooby-Doo meet. It sets up a wonderful origin story but then they get sucked into this abhorret plot where I found myself just waiting for the end of this entire fiasco. It makes the callbacks to the original series so empty, because they knew what they had and it was thrown away.
In addition, the dialogue in the feature was dumbfounding to listen to with its painfully modern use of vocabulary. So many modern references get thrown out meant to engage the adults in the crowd but each of them caused nothing but cringe. They even have a moment where Simon Cowell appears, which prompts Shaggy and Scooby-Doo to sing “Shallow” from 2018’s A Star is Born. That moment gave the first inclination of the disaster this film would eventually be, as it does not have a clever or insightful bone in its body. Sure, it certainly has its aim towards a young population but the efforts made to entertain the adults missed the mark as well heavily.
The only remotely enjoyable aspect of the film was the voice cast as they truly do well in bringing some life to these characters even if the story and script did them no favors. Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Gina Rodriguez, Will Forte, and Frank Welker stepped in to voice the main crew with others like Mark Wahlburg, Jason Isaacs, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, and Tracey Morgan adding in their vocals as well. Trying to figure out the voices became its own game and it allowed for me to find some entertainment seeing as the story failed to achieve that at each turn.
Cynicism hits at its highest with the creation of this dreadful film. Devoid of any creativity or narrative bravery, this proves to be studio animated storytelling at its worst. It takes a beloved property and completely manipulates it to fit the current hot idea, which happens to be superheroes. Not only does it betray these characters and the original series, but it does not even make the change remotely interesting by any means. A completely empty exercise in brand management and I feel bad for the animators having to put so much work in for such an unfortunate feature.