I had no plans to see this movie, which looked like the umpteenth relaunch of the Scooby-Doo
franchise, so I paid no attention to the trailers or anything related to it. This weekend while visiting family, they did the early home rental to entertain the kids for $20 since COVID-19 has kept this out of theaters. It was definitely not what I was expecting.
It begins with a young Shaggy and Scooby meeting for the first time which is fitting because the relationship between these two characters will be the core of all the crazy proceedings to follow. Next they meet the trio of Fred, Daphne and Velma and end up debunking a fake haunting by chance. They band together as Mystery Inc. and we get a montage of shots from the old TV show that us old-timers will remember. But then it's onto something new.
The gang runs into Simon Cowell in a restaurant in what already felt like a dated celebrity reference. He tells the trio if they want to be big-time they should ditch Shaggy and Scooby who are useless which for some reason, they do. I might have missed part of the scene.
Shaggy and Scooby go bowling but are attacked by robotic bowling pins and chased down an alley where they are saved by the Blue Falcon. He beams them up to his falcon ship where they meet Dino-Mutt, the robotic dog and falcon's pilot, Dee Dee. I have a passing familiarity with many of the Hanna-Barbera characters, and I know many of them crossed over in the Laff-A-Lympics and Yogi's Space Ark or whatever, but I didn't know that's what was happening in this movie. To capitalize on the current superhero movie trend, this film seems to be the opening bid in a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe with a superhero flavor.
Falcon is not the original, but his son who seems to be overcompensating to try to get out of his dad's big shadow. Dino-Mutt is not too supportive, pointing out his flaws. They fix Scooby up with a superhero outfit because the computer tells them that genetically he is some kind of 'chosen one.' This will eventually force Scooby to choose between his friendship with Shaggy or the superhero life.
The villain is Dick Dastardly who comes from HB's Wacky Races who is now some Lex Luthor or Brainiac level evil genius with an army of robot minions. I was wondering what happened to his canine sidekick Muttley but we find that out in the third act.
The trio of Fred, Daphne and Velma realize their error and are trying to reunite with Shag and Scoob and find themselves in a world beneath the Earth's surface on a prehistoric island. This is where I started to get somewhat interested because I didn't know what HB characters would be thrown into the mix next. The Flintstones? Well, no, they'll probably get their own movie. It's Captain Caveman which probably wouldn't have been a surprise if I new the source a little better. I was wondering who Dee Dee was and I guess she was part of a trio of girls who hung out with the Captain in his old show. Here they are strangers and she stands on her own.
Now there's an ancient prophecy and portals and magic and all sorts of weird stuff. This is pretty far removed from the original Scooby-Doo
show where the supernatural was always faked and the real villains had much more mundane motivations like stealing money. I guess a lot of the Scooby revivals since the 90s have had them encountering actual monsters and magic but that was a little after my time.
Scooby and the gang get somewhat lost in the chaos. Will Forte did a commendable job, I think, as the voice of Shaggy. He really doesn't sound like Casey Kasem but he does still sound like Shaggy, if that makes sense. Frank Welker, a legend in voice acting, who was the original voice of Fred and took over the voice of Scooby after Don Messick died, I think, gets a pretty plum role as Scooby in this one. They did recast Fred with Zac Efron.
I don't think the writers have ever known what to do with Fred, Daphne and Velma. Unlike Scooby and Shaggy who are giant bundles of character traits, this trio are pretty much just three earnest heroes playing it straight. Velma was more of a bookworm so they play up her intelligence and computer savvy but they also play up her weirdness. This usually leaves Fred and Daphne just kind of being there. In this one, Fred is bizarrely in love with the Mystery Machine, for some reason.
I didn't stick around for the post-credits scene but apparently there were a "slew of Easter eggs" related to the HBCU according to this site