• 06 Jun - 12 Jun, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

The relaunch of Scooby-Doo, a character born in the late 60s and sustaining a presence in the decades ever since, carries with it the potential for both high highs and low lows. Because universal familiarity and affection among parents might make it a swifter rental decision but the weight of expectation and of childhood association will mean that casual, uninvested background watching won’t suffice. Which is where the problem with Warner’s early summer franchise-relauncher Scoob! lies. While a younger audience might be enthralled by the fast pace and bright colour palette, those understandably curious adults sitting nearby will find themselves watching in horror, a deep, sorrowful howl emerging.

Scoob! is uncomfortably strained with laboured winks scattered among the sub-par slapstick action, a dog’s dinner of a movie best enjoyed by those with no knowledge of who or what Scooby-Doo used to be.

But even then, Scoob! stumbles because so much of the plot plays off an assumed knowledge of the history of these characters and their dynamic, hoping that we fill in the many gaps it can’t fill itself. It starts promisingly, with a neat meet-cute as we learn how a young Shaggy befriends a stray dog he calls Scooby-Doo. On one Halloween night, the pair then end up meeting three friends, Fred, Daphne and Velma, who help them bring a thieving local in a ghost mask to justice. It’s a charming throwback and so it’s then frustrating that we’re dragged into the future via lazy mystery-solving montage as the gang find their business underfunded leading to a bizarre and dated cameo from Simon Cowell, playing himself as a potential investor. He bitchily recommends dropping Shaggy and Scooby from the Mystery Inc banner and so the group splits, a befuddling inciting incident that’s indicative of a confused and confusing plot to come.

The ensuing mess of events continues to take us further away from the ingredients that made the original show and its many iterations so well-loved by so many, replacing a goofy small-town mystery with a blockbuster-level global quest. In trying to update the formula, the film’s four writers have expanded the focus too wide, flattening out the distinctively shaggy mystery elements and turning it into just another soulless kids movie.