As live-action adaptations of cheap, unapologetically stupid cartoons go, this is as good as it gets: The cast is appealing, the sets brightly colored and fun to look at, the mystery as lame and goofy as any featured in the many inexplicably beloved Scooby-Doo cartoons. Even the CGI Scooby is a marvel of modern special effects technology, even if the results are distinctly grotesque; a cartoon dog with freakish proportions and uncanine expressions becomes very creepy when rendered in an essentially realistic style. The movie opens as the ever-game members of Mystery, Inc. vain Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr., with a Goldilocks bleach job), beautiful Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), comic-relief Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), brilliant Velma (Linda Cardellini, of TV's Freaks and Geeks) and talking Great Dane Scooby wrap up a typical "supernatural" mystery by revealing that the real culprit is the cranky old janitor. But when Fred once again takes credit for everything, Velma quits in a huff. The others follow suit, and Mystery, Inc. is no more. Two years later, each receives an invitation from amusement park magnate Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson) to solve a mystery plaguing his Spooky Island resort. College kids arrive filled with high spirits and leave as surly Stepford teens what could be happening? The gang swiftly uncovers and defeats a fiendish plot to steal college kids' ectoplasm and use it to revitalize a race of ancient demons hell-bent on ruling the world. This movie is aimed squarely at youngsters, and smart alecks looking for nudge-nudge, wink-wink allusions to the widely held beliefs that Shaggy is a pot head, Velma a lesbian and Scrappy-Doo the product of an unnatural liaison will be sorely disappointed. The only sop to cynics lies in the indignities heaped on the oversized head of the much-hated Scrappy. On the plus side, the casting is just about flawless: Lillard could have been genetically engineered to play Shaggy, and Cardellini captures Velma's braininess while making her truly adorable she even meets a cute guy who likes her. Prinze evokes Fred's self-involvement and good-natured dimness without a hint of irony and Gellar is pitch-perfect as perpetual damsel-in-distress Daphne; Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will delight in observing that her demon-hunting cohorts like to call themselves the "Scooby gang." The apparently inevitable fart-and-burp contest comprises most of the "rude humor" alluded to in the film's rating explanation.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: PG
- Review: As live-action adaptations of cheap, unapologetically stupid cartoons go, this is as good as it gets: The cast is appealing, the sets brightly colored and fun to look at, the mystery as lame and goofy as any featured in the many inexplicably beloved Scooby… (more)