Blame it on “The Avengers.” Or higher but, “Justice League.” These superheroes are so standard with audiences that Hollywood studios obtained it of their heads that the world needs to see “expanded universe” motion pictures — unwieldy ensemble productions that deliver collectively half a dozen or extra stand-alone characters for a single umbrella journey. Marvel and DC team-ups make a sure sense, since these super-friends steadily pool their powers in comedian ebook type as properly, however not so different manufacturers, and although a handful of flicks had been greenlit beneath the technique — together with Common’s “Bride of Frankenstein” and Warners’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” — they’re burning out or disbanding one after the other.
That leaves WB’s computer-animated “Scoob!” wanting awkwardly out of contact in a number of methods. First, it’s a dear function adaptation of a basic TV present that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, will as an alternative be debuting through streaming — doomed to a small-screen destiny. On the floor, “Scoob!” seems to be like a benign, back-to-basics reboot (in contrast with two regrettable big-screen live-action motion pictures), when in truth, it’s a calculated try to revive not simply Scooby-Doo and his pals for an additional technology, but in addition a handful of different unrelated cartoon characters most children most likely haven’t heard of.
“Scoob!” is the primary salvo — and sure additionally the final, for the foreseeable future, not less than — in a Hanna-Barbera crossover bonanza, resurrecting such dusty, disparate characters as Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, Dick Dastardly (of the “Wacky Races” collection) and Captain Caveman, alongside the Thriller Inc. group. When confined to their respective reveals, these eccentric goofballs had been all fairly entertaining in their very own proper (some greater than others), and but they don’t naturally coexist in the identical world, forcing the movie’s 4 credited screenwriters — Matt Lieberman, Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson and Derek Elliott, working from a narrative by Lieberman, Eyal Podell and Jonathon E. Stewart — to contort the plot like a rickety curler coaster in order to accommodate all of them.
Doing so forces “Scooby-Doo” exterior its personal style. Debuting in 1969, the favored Saturday-morning cartoon pioneered a sort of amiably corny teen-detective template, placing a cool comedic spin on earnest previous Nancy Drew-style mysteries. Every week, the younger sleuths adopted seemingly supernatural clues en path to unmasking a unique villain, who invariably swore, “And I might have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling youngsters,” on the finish of the episode.
“Scooby-Doo’s” enduring reputation has as a lot to do with its characters because the present’s retro flower-powered taste, current in every thing from costumes to catchphrases to a crime-fighting van with its psychedelic paint job. The now-three-dimensional characters look nice, vastly increasing their vary of poses whereas sticking fairly near the basic designs. And but, personality-wise, “Scoob!” steers issues in a unique route.
Right here, the Thriller Inc. buddies — laid-back Shaggy (Will Forte), studly Fred (voiced by Zac Efron), redheaded Daphne (Amanda Seyfried), bespectacled Velma (Gina Rodriguez) and their insatiably hungry mascot/mutt Scooby-Doo — belong to the post-millennial technology, born within the shadow of 9/11, who grew up in a world of hybrid vehicles and fixed web connectivity. Marijuana has been legalized in most states, and but, Shaggy now not reads like a counterculture determine, regardless of hanging out close to Venice Seaside, the place he adopts (and names) Scooby Dooby Doo in a flashback prologue. In the meantime, the remainder of the movie takes place beneath inexplicably futuristic circumstances.
After narrowly escaping a robotic assault on the native bowling alley (do Gen Zers nonetheless go bowling?), Shaggy and Scooby are kidnapped by a UFO — which isn’t as sinister because it sounds, because it seems to be Blue Falcon’s ship, captained by his son (Mark Wahlberg) and his save-the-day robo-dog Dynomutt (Ken Jeong). This might need been an impressed match-up, as each are heroes with canine companions, though the parallel is tenuous at greatest, and results in a variety of “Star Wars”-style trick flying scenes. Besides “Star Wars” isn’t a part of this prolonged universe, which makes frequent references to different Warner Bros. properties (Harry Potter, Surprise Lady, Lord of the Rings and so forth).
Simon Cowell makes a quick look, nevertheless, resulting in a brief break up within the gang as Fred, Daphne and Velma department out on their very own. The plot barely is sensible from scene to scene, though there’s loads of power and a few first rate animation concerned in set-pieces which can be so forgettable, most have already slipped my thoughts mere hours after viewing them. Someway, Scooby winds up on the distant Thriller Island, named after the plain query of “What’s it doing on this film?”
To not be confused with Thriller Inc. (the group’s detective newbie company) or the Thriller Machine (their “anachronistic van”), this distant location permits for an look by Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan) earlier than issues transfer on to Athens for the grand finale. One factor nearly all of the Scooby-Doo motion pictures appear to misconceive is that Shaggy and Scooby are simply spooked by paranormal-seeming appearances, whereas their extra skeptical companions sometimes come alongside to disclose how these had been staged (through hidden strings and scary costumes). Within the options, wildly inconceivable issues actually do occur — which upsets the dynamic completely.
In lieu of pinning every thing on some low-key native rascal, “Scoob!” considerably upgrades all-purpose Hanna-Barbera scoundrel Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) from pathetic Wile E. Coyote-esque scheme-ster to high-tech mastermind. As older viewers could recall, Dastardly additionally has a canine connection, though it’s greatest left as much as viewers to find how his snickering canine Muttley elements into this convoluted story. Suffice to say, Dastardly’s plan entails unleashing Cerberus, the mythological three-headed canine who guards the underworld, though by the point that has occurred, the film has already overstayed its welcome by a superb half-hour.
Then once more, these try occasions, and fogeys could also be grateful to have a digital babysitter to distract their youngsters for 90 minutes, through which case, “Scoob!” is unquestionably more practical than sitting them in entrance of the fish tank. Plus, renting the movie on demand (for a whopping $19.99, or simply $5 extra to purchase) spares adults the duty of sitting by way of the film themselves — though these different basic Hanna-Barbera characters are more likely to enchantment extra to oldsters, and the animation work would have held up positive on the large display screen. They may also keep in mind that that is hardly the primary Hanna-Barbera crossover experiment: Yogi Bear’s pals had been all the time turning up in his motion pictures, and in 1987, the Jetsons met the Flintstones, all in made-for-TV specials.
This entire distribution technique is an enormous threat — and an nearly sure loss — for Warner Bros., though Common appears to have executed all proper pioneering the straight-to-streaming mannequin with “Trolls World Tour,” and animation is reportedly among the many most-watched content material throughout lockdown. Given the expanded-universe strategy, “Scoob!” was clearly conceived with sequel and spinoff potential in thoughts, and but, this strategy imposes a big downgrade in these ambitions. Then once more, so may ready. Jeepers! Damned should you Doo, damned should you don’t.