Scooby-Doo: A Scrappy, Silly Comedy
- Tuesday, June 04, 2002
Scooby-Doo - PG
Best for: Kids 7 to early teens, but adults who have a soft spot for the old cartoon will also enjoy Scooby-Doo.
The plot: Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and his talking dog, Scooby-Doo, are part of Mystery Inc., a crime-solving quintet that disbands after Fred begins taking all the credit from Velma, the group's true mastermind, and the rest of the gang. Two years later the group is reunited after amusement park owner Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson) claims someone is drugging or altering the teenagers who visit. Strange things begin to happen to the group as it gets closer to solving the mystery, and Scooby and Shaggy become divided over Shaggy's new girlfriend, Mary Jane (Isla Fisher). United by their slogan, "friends don't give up on friends," the gang rallies to save the world from an evil takeover.
The good: Director Raja Gosnell and screenwriter James Gunn collaborate on the first live-action adaptation based on the cartoon series, and first-weekend box office numbers indicate they've hit pay dirt with a whole new generation of faithful fans. People of all ages, including my 20-year-old daughter, want to see this movie.
I went into this movie very skeptical. After the first 10 minutes, I thought it would be as bad as I had heard it was. But then I got into the spirit of the movie and began to enjoy the cartoonish antics and subtle adult humor. It stayed faithful to the characters but added a 21st century twist.
Lillard is the perfectly cast. He is Shaggy! And the CGI Scooby-Doo is just adorable. I enjoyed Velma's intelligence and dry wit, and Daphne delivers a few laughs with her fashion taste and desire to no longer be typecast as the damsel in distress. Prinze, with his fake blonde hair, is the most miscast of the bunch.
This is a fun summer movie but not one I can recommend as kid-friendly.
The bad: It's been a while since I've watched a Scooby-Doo cartoon, but I don't remember Fred being so egotistical or chauvinist, Daphne being a damsel in distress, Velma being the smart one who never gets any credit, or Scrappy-Doo being an evil puppy.
Parents need to be of the story's emphasis on "island voodoo," with people wearing skeleton masks and painting their faces and bodies. Giant dog-like monsters chase the teenagers, blow a green fog in their faces, knock them unconscious, take their souls and possess their bodies. A small dog morphs into a mean monster, and a man's face is pulled off to reveal a robot underneath. Other intense special effects (despite being computer-generated) are still frightening.
Offensive language or behavior: Several instances of crude language, rude behavior (a major gas contest between Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, with exaggerated sounds; teenage drinking; Scrappy urinates on Daphne's dress) and a couple of drug-related jokes.
Sexual situations: The three main female characters show more cleavage than in the cartoon. Most of the teenage girls on the island display bare abdomens, bare backs and bare thighs. One scene shows souls trying to re-enter their original bodies, then mistakenly entering the wrong bodies. And why is big-breasted Pamela Anderson (in a cleavage-revealing outfit) in a kids' movie talking about how she's every man's fantasy?
Violence: Characters are knocked down, thrown around and get in fights with monsters and other evil characters. A man performs a voodoo ritual holding a knife over a dead chicken, and another man performs a voodoo ritual while holding what looks like a shrunken head with a body. Protoplasmic heads are plucked out, then seek to re-enter their bodies. Monsters disintegrate in sunlight. The gang encounters a ghost inside a factory, but the ghost turns out to be a human in a costume.
Parental guidance: The "PG" rating is for rude humor, some mild language and some intense action that could unsettle or frighten younger kids. The evil guys appear to be a part of the island's carnival atmosphere, but a couple of intense scenes could affect kids who are prone to nightmares.
It's a wrap: Scooby-Doo isn't appropriate for kids of all ages, but parents will find it an enjoyable adaptation of the beloved cartoon. I thought this would be a really dumb movie, but my 20-year-old daughter and I enjoyed it together. As we looked around the theater, we noticed there were a lot of teenagers and adults (without kids) who seemed to be enjoying this movie as much as the kids.
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