Written by: James Gunn
Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson
Splitting credit and praise amongst a group comes with its difficulty because we all carry egos and wish to receive what’s due even if not always possible. This has split up many famous bands in years past and evidently proves to operate as a danger for the famous crew of Mystery, Inc in Scooby-Doo. Certainly a film with the intention of delivering a comedic and kids-friendly spooky story and doing it very well.
After splitting up following their latest crime-solving mystery, the gang at Mystery Inc appears to be done for good. When they each receive an invitation to win thousands of dollars for solving a mystery on Spooky Island, they have the chance to make up in order to get to the bottom of this issue even if more presents itself than it appears.
The idea of bringing Scooby-Doo to live-action makes plenty of sense bringing forth a story of crime-solving young adults will draw plenty of interest and allows for some feverish fantasy casting. Animating a dog who can speak and act in ways unnatural to a canine serves as the main challenge for any feature attempting to bring this story to life and you have to respect how this film utilizes the idea of a dog like Scooby. It embraces absurdity as its friend rendering some frankly hilarious results as much of the film proves as well.
Of all the things this feature nailed, the casting stands as the towering achievement. Freddie Prinze Jr brings the handsomeness and goofiness of Fred, Sarah Michelle Geller captures the spunk of Daphne, Linda Cardelini harnesses the dorky but obviously gorgeous Velma, and Matthew Lillard simply exemplifies the stoner aura of Shaggy. Given the era in which this film saw its release date, it becomes difficult to think of a more perfect individual to portray these individuals as they all truly buy into the inherent silliness of this property and absolutely run with it. Seriously, the scene where Daphne grabs Velma’s glasses and the latter immediately drops to the ground to look for it like in the cartoons despite the obvious fact that Daphne holds them right in front of her just makes complete sense hilariously. It just all works so well thanks to them but the silliness of this story as a whole does do its part as well.
On top of strong casting, these characters get genuine moments of growth from the onset of the features ailing them and then learning to overcome those obstacles. It happens with Daphne always finding herself as a damsel in distress and Velma not asserting herself to receive the credit she deserves. Each of these characters receives a satisfactory arc leading them to grow and as a result, makes for decent development as individuals and as a team.
When the gang arrives on Spooky Island they see the issue of teens leaving the premises not having the same rebelliousness they had when they entered. These spring breakers no longer have any zeal for life but stand upright and remain quiet as they leave. Something worthy of raising eyebrows but this feature hilariously looks at what other individuals, who control the island think what a typical teenager talks like. It involves plenty of “Yo Yo Yo,” which honestly for a film in the 2000s makes plenty of sense. However, a certain instructional video lays it all out amongst all of the nutty things happening on the island. Whatever transpires falls on the gang to find out before they fall victim to this similar issue.
Thus the mystery unravels some terrifying revelations of what has happened to these teens and once the feature leans into it and reveals the villain behind it all, it may leave you scratching your head. None of it really makes sense when the villain reveals their hidden motivation and how it relates to everything happening to these teens. Then you also have the theme of Spooky Island having this more indigenous feel while also sporting a luchador for some reason. Not much of the plot makes sense as we head into the third act but we can excuse it, or at least I will.
Containing all of the silliness one would expect from a film centering on this gang, Scooby-Doo delivers everything in spades. It sets up a spooky mystery, throws in some funny gaffes for these characters to find themselves in, and even throws in some fun character development as a treat for us. This feature puts together the perfect cast for its characters amounting to something so entertaining even if the plot begins to fall apart. All part of the fun and this feature balances it all well.