Sunday, June 5, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins'

I bet you're wondering why I'm writing a review about a kids movie that premired on Cartoon Network and never even hit theaters? Well, I've got to keep things fresh and eclectic here, right? That and I've always loved Scooby-Doo.... ever since I was a kid. It's so nice that it's still around so that I can enjoy it with my kids too. I mean, they're still making these silly live action movies, but the cartoon is back in yet another incarnation. The main characters are still basically the same, with a few minor changes. It takes place in the modern world and the art is more modern, but Scooby and pals all still look like they did back in 1969 when the series premired. My kids love Scooby-Doo and watch it constantly and I'm more than happy to see what's out there on Netflix to watch and what I can tape off of Comcast. It's almost like 'I Love Lucy', it's always on somewhere.... almost. Anyway, I have to admit that I really did NOT like the original live action attempt at Scooby. I saw it with my nephew in the theater and I left feeling really kind of icky. I don't know what it was about it that I didn't like, but it just hit me in all the wrong places. I guess because maybe it was trying to present itself as hip, new version of the cartoon. Like it was the hipster version of a retro 'toon. Anyway, what I DID like about this new movie is the exact opposite reason. It knew its audience, it knew what made Scooby so great, it was willing to just be kind of silly and lame.... I mean, let's face it, the cartoon is pretty cheesy. The other thing I liked about this was the fact that it allowed the characters to be more modern in the modern world, but kept the old school feel of the cartoon. Is this a masterpiece of modern film making? Heck no. I never expected it to be much of anything.

The story is about the meeting of Norville 'Shaggy' Rogers and Scooby-Doo. Shaggy is a bit of a loner and an outcast and Scooby is having trouble getting adopted from a dog rescue. Some ghosts chase Scooby into Shaggy's basement bedroom after Scooby is accidentally dropped off the back of the pet rescue truck. They become instant friends. Soon they hook up with Velma Dinkley, Fred Jones and Daphine Blake while in detention. They realize that they all love mysteries and are soon out to solve the one at their high school. You've got ghosts, masks, mystery and a van. All the makings of a typical Scooby-Doo adventure.

This movie is obviously made to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It makes no attempt to be more than it is and that's why it was successful. My kids laughed at all the parts that they were supposed to laugh at, like with Scooby's eyes bulge out when he's scared. That joke never gets old. They throw just enough old school references into the movie to satisfy the adults, like myself, who've been fans for decades. (Stick around at the end for the montage, it'll tie up all the loose ends from the movie.) The film makers tried to answer all the age old questions about how the crew got together and it also tied in common threads that all kids deal with: alienation, peer pressure, friendship, stereotypes, etc. It may not handle the big issues, but it covers the basics and it just adds another level to the movie. Just one other thing I enjoyed about this.

The CGI is not great, the acting is silly and it's obvious that the actors are way older than 15 years old. You really have to suspend your disbelief if you're going to watch this movie. You also have to channel your inner child. I would recommend watching it with a non-jaded kid below the age of 10. I already know that they made another movie with this same cast and I have a feeling they might make a few more, if the cast agrees to it. I've already added the other movie to my Netflix queue and I'm betting the kids will love it just as much as this one. I don't know that I ever need to see this again, but after watching such deep films, disgusting horror, over the top action and depressing romantic dramas.... it's nice to check my brain at the door and pretend I'm 7 years old again and watching my favorite show on my 14" TV while in my pajamas. I think it's the kind of thing that keeps us all sane. I highly recommend you try it sometime, just don't read too much into it or you'll end up feeling really disappointed. it's a 3 out of 5 star movie, most of that is due to it's complete lack of concern over being anything amazing. It is what it is and that's all. Long live Scooby-Doo and Shaggy! Now can I have my Scooby snack?

Side note: Velma, in the recent cartoons and movies, is not portrayed as asexual or possibly lesbian.... she digs on the boys. They reference her crush on Fred in this movie and in another more recent cartoon, they talk about how her and Shaggy dated at one point but broke up over his 'dog issues'. That is all.


  1. The fact that the writers of the newer cartoons and big screen movies (no idea about in this one) felt the need to give Velma such an in-your-face "Look, I'm a typical straight girl who just happens to wear glasses, like me now because I'm not just the smart girl anymore!" vibe was always a major annoyance for me. Not a huge fan of the original cartoon but it always made me laugh at least, and I actually liked the fact that there was a character who wasn't just all about being pretty and boys.


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