Legacy megafans of Mystery Inc. should take heed: Scoob! is less origin reboot, more launchpad for Hanna-Barbera’s cinematic universe. Truthfully, it’s sweet and sincere and stresses teachable moments no matter your age. You’ll witness puppy-love as Norville “Shaggy” Rogers meets Scooby Dooby Doo for the first time, and smile as the gang solves their first childhood case, but then characters from all over Hanna-Barbera’s catalog shanghai focal spotlights. Blue Falcon, Dick Dastardly, Captain Caveman. These are just a few of the friends who drop in throughout Scoob!, which makes Tony Cervone’s updated children’s “horror” show more a gimmicky crossover than dedicated property reanimation.
On a sunny California beachfront, loner Shaggy (later voiced by Will Forte) shares stolen gyro meat and immediate companionship with his new best friend, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker). On Halloween, Fred (Zac Efron), Velma (Gina Rodriguez), and Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) welcome the munchie-hungry goofballs into their crew. Speed ahead into young adulthood and Mystery Inc. are looking to become a more legitimate sleuthing operation. Tensions drive Scooby and Shaggy away because Simon Cowell doesn’t think they serve a purpose (don’t ask). That’s when Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) abducts Shag and Scoob because they’re the target of Dick Dastardly’s (Jason Isaacs) latest scheme. Something about ancient skulls, temporal treasures, and Cerberus?
With an open mind, Scoob! is a millennial-era redesign that makes socially adaptable sense. The Mystery Machine gets an upgrade, OutKast tunes (“B.O.B.” no less) score “action” sequences, “Zoinks!” or “Jinkies” are used more as callbacks… it’s that kind of “reboot.” From young Velma’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg trick ‘r treating costume to Daphne’s eye-roll at Fred’s toxic masculinity, screenplay efforts sometimes seem spit from a bot fed only social media buzzwords. Then again, we have to remember what demographic Scoob! serves, which makes the friends-till-the-end cheesiness more palatable. Scoob! grants viewers plenty of warm-and-tingly moments, be it Daphne’s niceness towards a Dastardly minion robot or Shaggy’s collar gifting or even Dastardly’s evil-doer motivations.
What’s odd is how Scooby, Shaggy, and the assumed main-cast players feel like supporting characters in their (supposed) own movie. The gang always splits up at some point, but Scoob! scantly allows Mystery Inc. quality ghost-nabbin’ teamwork. Luckily, Blue Falcon’s star power withstands the weight of Dick Dastardly’s multiple attacks and rubber-masked infiltrations. Not to mention Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) and Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), who are the *actual* heroes in Blue Falcon’s crew while Mr. Blue Falcon Himself cowers out of harm’s way.
Mark Wahlberg unlocks his inner insecurity as a muscly “superher-bro” who will “never” live up to his father’s greatness (O.G. Blue Falcon), much like how Will Forte finds an even more timid voice inside Shaggy as Scoob accepts his “special” purpose. Arcs that prove outside voices shouldn’t shape our destinies, because all it takes is a little self-belief and confidence to show the world our true potential.
Strange to admit, but Jason Isaacs’ “playing” of Dick Dastardly might be my favorite performance. Every notable family-friendly adventure requires adorable and incompetent henchmen, which are Dastardly’s belly-out helper bots who can morph into chainsaw-handed scorpions. Dastardly’s interactions range pleasing levels of frustration as his booty-wiggly bots feign innocence after another failed mission, which plays gangbusters. Doubly so when Dastardly replaces one of his creation’s metallic heads with a dustbuster, creating this most lovable suck-up of the squadron. These moments gear themselves for kiddo laughs, but somehow tug at adult heartstrings and prod mature funnybones with obfuscating simplicity.
It’s through a streamlined narrative that Scoob! can focus on dropping Easter Eggs galore from Hex Girls pinball machines to signature eyes-in-the-dark scenes to an almost shot-for-shot recreation of the original cartoon’s opening credits. When Scoob! remembers to be a Scooby-Doo movie (cue nuclear-green Cerberus chasing Shag and Scoob “Benny Hill style”), entertainment comes with nostalgic accents.
When Blue Falcon’s social media obsession takes hold, or Captain Caveman becomes a principal adversary (how did we get here?), Scoob! is still an enjoyably daffy meet-up event that sets the stage for further Hanna-Barbera expansion. Maybe repetitive at times when typical kiddie-movie gags work in, or screenwriters pluck lowest hanging fruits (“All I Do Is Win” Blue Falcon introduction), but good natures frequently win out.
In short? Scoob! brings thematic brightness, indelible adolescent charms, and scrappy-dappy joyfulness to VOD when households need it most. Animation is crisp and clean, while musical accompaniment gets wild (Dick Dastardly’s industrial-electro themes). Trademark characters may be in overabundance, but everyone plays nicely as per the gang’s friendship motto. You’ll laugh as Dick Dastardly screams “Dick! Dick! Dick! Dick!” into funhouse mirrors, feel the compassion as Vacuum Head races to rescue his dear Daphne, and cherish the bond between Mystery Inc.’s lunchtime enthusiasts. It’s maybe not the Scoob! you’re expecting, but wholly a Scoob! worth devouring like your third midnight snack.
Scoob! is an enjoyable-enough start to the Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe, but may leave Mystery Inc. superfans feeling robbed of the Scooby-centric reboot that such a title suggests.