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  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan

from Film Forum, 02/07/02

For those who cringe at the thought of a movie based on literature, there is plenty of lame-brained commercial product ready for audiences.

There's the live-action version of Scooby Doo, in which the miracle of digital animation brings to life the famous ghost-hunting dog. Freddy Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar star.

from Film Forum, 06/20/02

The theme song for the Scooby-Doo television cartoon inquired, "Scooby-Doo—where are you?" The theme song for the new live-action feature film (by Christian crossover act MxPx) could ask, "Scooby-Doo, where are your good reviews?"

Nobody has ever considered Scooby-Doo fine art. But the innocuous television series, which features a gang of dimwitted kids running from phantoms and ghostly bad guys, was never offensive. It was just dumb. In the film, Scooby has become another excuse to show off digital animation. And human companions have been transformed into a crass, degenerate lot. Thus, I have yet to see a review that recommends this film as a good choice for the family.

Mary Draughon (Preview) objects to "drug references … form-fitting outfits that reveal and emphasize cleavage … flatulence … scary occult phenomena, and drug use."

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says, "Director Raja Gosnell … keeps things light and frivolous, although it would appear that the target audience he is interested in attracting are those who have grown up with Scooby rather than today's youngsters. I can't imagine any producer or director purposely including as much cleavage as fills this screen with the intent of attracting the under-10 set."

Bob Smithouser (Focus on the Family) says, "Morally and artistically, it's a chaotic mess. Scooby-Doo seems to have been made by people familiar with the cartoon, but with little affection for it—or for the trusting families of younger children sure to be blindsided by its scary action and joyless satire."

Ted Baehr (Movieguide) says it "violates some of the principles that made the original television series so popular. The violence at times is too intense. The college weekend is too salacious. Some of the scary moments are over the top for a children's movie. Furthermore, the phantasmic protoplasm monsters are real, breaking one of the cardinal rules of the Scooby-Doo series." But Baehr distinguishes himself as perhaps the only critic to praise Freddie Prinze Jr. performance as "terrific."

Phil Boatwright finds it odd that people would accuse the film of being worse than the cartoon. "It was and remains obnoxious television. Now that it has been turned into a big-budgeted enterprise starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her gnome-ish real-life boyfriend, I'm convinced that there is no longer hope for future generations. It's merely a matter of time before society reverts to cave dwelling. The only comic in the bunch is Rowan Atkinson and he's not given anything to do. Good thinking, Warner Bros."

Mainstream critics got creative with their putdowns. Dave Poland (The Hot Button) says, "I almost want to see the movie again to be sure that it is as completely devoid of value as I feel it is." And Meg van Huygen (The Stranger) calls it "insulting and excruciating … an innocent cartoon has been defiled for no reason. Fred and Daphne have this sexual undercurrent, Shaggy and Scooby have a fart contest, and Velma gets drunk with some dude. It's cheap and desperate."

from Film Forum, 06/27/02

Last week, I mentioned having difficulty finding a religious press critic who was not thoroughly disgusted with the movie version of Scooby-Doo. Well, this week Holly McClure (Crosswalk) posted her review: "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."

But Mike Parnell ( says that Doo "lacks any real focus. There are no genuine laughs. This film will do great at the box office. But there is such a following for this franchise that it deserves much better than what this movie offers."