Everything Wrong (and Right!) With The Live Action Scooby-Doo Movies
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Let’s get one thing straight, I LOVE the Scooby-Doo series. These movies are no exception. They were one of the first introductions I had to the series and watching them now gives me such a wave of nostalgia. However, as I am such a devoted fan of the series re-watching the 2002 and 2004 live action movies makes me cringe a little… BUT there are some elements to it that still make me incredibly happy.
So! Let’s go through them now.
So, What’s So Wrong?
Pamela Anderson knows Mystery Inc?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good celebrity cameo as much as the next guy but WHAT has Baywatch star Pamela Anderson got to do with Mystery Inc. Scrap that, just a Scooby-Doo movie in general. It’s only just more mismatched than Scooby-Doo: Wrestlemania Mystery or Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery. I get it that she has something to do with the Wow-o Toy Factory but to me, this cameo is just really cheesy and unneeded.
PLEASE tell me that other people recoil in their seats when hearing lines like the one above in a SCOOBY-DOO FILM? Sure, there’s plenty of “Jinkies” and “Zoinks” to keep even the most loyal fan satisfied however lines like: “Those creatures are taking over the world? That is so mean.” seem out of place and out of character to me.
Maybe, I’m just a stickler but a film that is based on a children’s cartoon series and features a fart scene that lasts well over a minute in length, probably shouldn’t feature as many edgy adult references as this film does. From drug references, jokes about being whipped, uncomfortable jokes like the one above and literally the word ‘biatch’ featuring in one scene, this film – for me at least – is a bit much. But it could have been worse! According to IMDb: “This film was originally set to have a much darker tone, essentially poking fun at the original series, and was set for a PG-13 rating. Shaggy was set to be a stoner, Velma and Daphne had a side relationship, and there were many marijuana references. According to Sarah Michelle Gellar, after the cast had signed on, there was a change and the film became more family-friendly. However, by 2017, James Gunn confirmed that the original cut of the film got an R-rating and had to use CGI to cover cleavage.” Thank god it did receive the change as I probably would have never have seen it as a kid, meaning I wouldn’t have as many happy memories now.
Do I even need to say anymore? I know that Scrappy-Doo is pretty much a hated character across the universe, however as someone who didn’t mind him in previous Scooby-Doo movies even I couldn’t stand him in this film. As cool as it is seeing another original character appear in this movie and even though him turning out to be (SPOILERS) the main villain of the film is an unexpected twist. He’s still annoying as hell. I’m not sure if I can even elaborate any further than that, I think everyone just knows what an annoying character he is in this film.
Velma Suits Up
Even though Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed did improve on a lot of these bad points, they faltered with this scene. I don’t even know what to say about it, it’s just so, so cringe educing. Not the fact that Velma is awkward in this scene, just the fact they put Linda Cardellini in a skin tight outfit for pretty much no reason other than fan service.
The Fart Scene.
I know this is kind of a kids film and kids find farts and burps funny but I get so much secondhand embarrassment from this scene that I couldn’t even watch it in full before adding it here. I even think as a kid I couldn’t handle the embarrassment! It just feels like cheap humour to me, even if it is for kids.
Now, For What’s Right!
Hollywood are slightly notorious for casting incorrectly when it comes to animation film adaptations. I believe however that the cast chosen for these 2 live action Scooby-Doo movies are perfect. All 4 main cast members fit their characters so perfectly with Linda Cardellini from Freaks & Geeks (1999) as Velma, Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997) fame as Daphne, Freddie Prinze Jr. who had previously featured in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) as Fred and Matthew Lillard of Scream (1996) who made such a good Shaggy. Lillard actually returned to the role in 2015 to voice Shaggy in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! after Shaggy’s previous voice actor Casey Kasem passed away the year before the series started. I haven’t watched much of the series but I have to say how cool it is hearing Matthew Lillard’s voice as Shaggy again. Another thing I’d like to add is how amazing my kid brain thought it was that Freddie and Daphne are married in real life! It still makes me smile now.
Usually, in every Scooby-Doo production there’s a good sountrack. However, in these two movies, they’re especially good. Maybe it’s just nostalgia talking but tracks by the likes of Simple Plan, New Radicals, Puffy Ami Yumi & Bowling For Soup all make this soundtrack especially memorable. The tracks all fit the mood perfectly. In fact, Simple Plan even managed to cement themselves in Scooby-Doo history! Having 2 of their songs feature in the movies, they then went onto record the theme song for What’s New Scooby-Doo? and feature in a couple of episodes! It was these Scooby-Doo features that got me interested in the band when I was 12 or so years old!
I know I literally just complained about some of the humour in these films however there are some hilarious moments in it too. Like the scene where the gang sneak Scooby__ I mean ‘Grandma’ onto the plane to Spooky Island, or the scene where Shaggy and Scooby try various potions found in the gold mine fridge in Scooby-Doo 2, or when the gang are investigating Old Man Winkles mansion and Shaggy and Scooby attempt to find their own clues which are evidently just rubbish or the Chilli eating scene at the end of the first film. There’s loads of hilarious scenes in these movies.
Production & Costume Design
Anyone who has seen these films has no doubt also wanted to live in Mystery Inc. HQ. It literally looks like the coolest place ever! (I know the picture is low quality but trust me). Just from watching the movies alone we can see that the headquarters has a living room, kitchen, a lab and possibly bedrooms but that’s just from what we can see in the movie, imagine what else could also be included in this huge futuristic house!
I also really love the costume design, I love how every character has colour coordinated wardrobes. For example, it doesn’t matter if she’s wearing a dress, trousers, a giant fur jacket or even a shirt with her own face on; Daphne is always wearing varying shades of purple. Its the same for Velma with orange/red, Fred with white/blue and Shaggy with green/brown. It’s nice visually but also again, a nice nod to the original show.
I know that these guys look a little worse for wear by 2018 CGI standards however, I still think that these demons are pretty well done. I love their design, they’re able to be goofy and funny whilst also being pretty scary. The monsters that appear in Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed also deserve recognition as they’ve come straight out of the original cartoon! They’ve also managed to stand the test of time and not look too out of place and fake to a modern day audience, considering they were created 14 years ago.
Daphne is a Badass
Daphne starts out the first film as well, a bit of a brat. Throughout the film and throughout its sequel though, Daphne “transforms her body into a dangerous weapon” as she physically fights a load of bad guys, single handedly! From Mexican wrestlers to Black Knight Ghosts. She changes herself for the better from damsel in distress to dangerous weapon, which is refreshing to see as Daphne is usually always in danger and usually always needs rescuing.
Scooby is Scooby!
It may be a silly thing to mention but I really appreciate how Scooby-like Scooby is in these films. He has times where he acts like a real dog and other times where he’s an exaggerated caricature of a dog; it’s nice to see a seamless blend of both character attributes. It also makes him seem as close to the original as he can be and as you know I’m a sucker for referencing the originals. He is also animated very well, again I appreciate that he probably doesn’t look very good compared to modern standards however I really like how he moves and his mannerisms which were clearly referenced from actual dogs. His fur and eyes also give him that realistic yet goofy look which I think fits him very well.
That just about wraps it up for my list, I know a lot of the points I made come from a personal, fan point of view and won’t be shared by everyone however I really enjoyed venting and putting my thoughts out into the world.
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