Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
- review by Mary Lasse Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2004 26 Mar
Like, Scooby and the gang are back for another live-action adventure. Zoinks!
At the beginning of
But, as the story goes, things have to go wrong for any crime solving to take place. So, at the very gala celebrating the opening of the museum, Pterodactyl Ghost comes to life (in a scene that might scare younger children) and steals several costumes on behalf of a mysterious masked villain who promises the ruin of Mystery, Inc. Now the gang's got some work to do—and their best piece of evidence is a Pterodactyl scale full of Randomonium that Velma finds after the museum mayhem. (For all of you non-scientists, Randomonium is a chemical used for bringing monsters to life. Of course.)
Mystery, Inc. is determined to solve the enigma, but there's division in the group. Fred, Daphne, and Velma don't realize that they've hurt Shaggy and Scooby by saying that the two goofballs botched the "immediate capture of monster" option while at the museum. With loads of self-pity, Shaggy and Scooby decide to act like "real detectives" for once. This decision leads the entire group into a series of capers as they stumble toward the answer.
Who's responsible for the devious plan? Could it be Old Man Wickles (Peter Boyle), mad scientist Jacobo (Tim Blake Nelson), news reporter Heather (Alicia Silverstone), or even Velma's crush, Patrick? A lot of villains have it in for our heroes. Think of how many times we've heard, "And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those meddlin' kids!" (My apologies, but I just had to work that line in somewhere.)
The writing in
Cardellini and Lillard bring Velma and Shaggy to life with great character performances. Cardellini nails Velma's accent (pronouncing Scooby as "Skubee") and awkward body movements (crawling around for her glasses). Lillard's voice could pass for Casey Kasem, the original voice of Shaggy, and his knee-locking, shoulder-sagging stance looks exactly like the cartoon Shagster.
But Fred and Daphne (the characters, not the actors) bothered me. They weren't dumb enough. I've always thought of Fred and Daphne as the looks of the group, which they are, but they were pretty smart and tough in this movie as well. And, that's just not fair to the rest of us average folk. I guess it's okay for Fred to come up with some of the ideas—after all, he is the leader of Mystery, Inc. But Daphne, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, seemed more like
Gosnell and Gunn actually shot for a moral message here, sort of a "Thank you for letting me be myself" theme, as a song in the film tells us. Throughout the film, characters occasionally abandon their true personality: Velma pretends to be a cool jet-setter for Patrick, Shaggy and Scooby try to ditch their fun-loving personalities, and Fred puts up a façade of "talking is for wimps" whenever Daphne asks him if he's okay. The end lesson: Be true to yourself.
Alas, neither that message nor any amount of celebrity can save the
- Why is our culture fascinated with monsters?
- There's a "be true to yourself" message in the film. What do you like about yourself? What don't you like? How should Christians define their identity? See
Genesis 1:26-27and Psalm 139:1-16for some ideas.
- Think about your closest friends. Do you encourage each other to pursue your talents? Do you build up each other in your conversations?
Overall, the film's fairly family-friendly. In once scene, Velma dresses in a skin-tight leather suit in order to get Patrick's attention. In another, Scooby resorts to flatulence in order to get by a monster. And some scenes with monsters would be scary for young children.
from Film Forum, 04/01/04
The big box office receipts generated by the first Scooby-Doo movie have led to the production of a sequel, which has likewise debuted at #1. This time around, Scooby-Doo and his crew of ghostbusters pursue a masked bad guy who is attempting to take over the city by generating a crowd of monsters. The heroes follow the clues to a museum managed by a strange curator (Seth Green), while a romance develops between Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and a troublesome reporter (Alicia Silverstone).
But some, like Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter), are still distressed. He faults "the lame storyline and dull-witted jokes … [and] material not suited for family viewing, such as flatulence jokes and some rather adult sensuality. This is not only a bomb, it's a stink bomb."
Bob Smithouser (Plugged In) is not so bothered: "Some may argue that this spooky sequel is nothing more than another cinematic roller-coaster ride through a haunted house. True, but the company is better and the turns aren't as vicious and morally jarring.
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says, "It is hard to get fired up over this film. I can say this. It is a marked improvement over the ill-conceived
Mary Lasse (Christianity Today Movies) says the filmmakers "shot for a moral message here … Be true to yourself. Alas, neither that message nor any amount of celebrity can save the Scooby films. You could pass on both of the films unless you really have nothing else to do … and I mean nothing."
Misty Wagner (Christian Spotlight) employs many exclamation marks in her review: "Slight drug references aside, this is an acceptable and entertaining movie for families. This movie can help younger audiences see that we all are special and all have special gifts! It is up to us to use them."
Annabelle Robertson (Crosswalk) offers a "review" that seems addressed to a specific section of the moviegoing public: "Let's be real, folks. I know it's our childhood here—and I realize that most of those childhoods, like mine, were obliterated by divorce, parents who prayed to the gods of sexual revolution and kids trying to sell drugs on the playground. And I sympathize, I really do. I understand that, like me, you attended the first
She concludes, "Go if you must, but don't forget to take your pooper scooper."