Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

dir Tony Cervone
prd Pam Coats, Allison Abbate
scr Adam Sztykiel, Jack C Donaldson, Derek Elliott, Matt Lieberman
voices Will Forte, Frank Welker, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Christina Hendricks, Simon Cowell
release US/UK 15.May.20
20/US Warners 1h34

forte wahlberg isaacs

shaggy and scooby
Corporate fingerprints are all over this colourful, energetic animated feature, which was clearly designed to establish a franchise of Hanna-Barbera characters while referencing Warner Media properties from Harry Potter to Wonder Woman. There are moments when the movie captures the inane glee of the original Scooby-Doo cartoons, complete with some terrific character gags. But the expanded blockbuster scale is uninteresting, complete with pointlessly bloated action sequences.
After solving various cases, the Mystery Inc team is contemplating its next step, consulting with Simon Cowell. He likes brawny Fred (Efron), brainy Velma (Rodriguez) and friendly Daphne, but doesn't get chucklehead Shaggy (Forte) or his goofy dog Scooby-Doo (Welker). When Dick Dastardly (Isaacs) sends killer robots after Shaggy and Scooby, they're rescued by the heroic Blue Falcon (Wahlberg), his pilot Dee Dee (Clemons) and robo-dog Dynomutt (Jeong). And now they all need to team up to stop Dastardly from collecting three skulls before heading to Athens to release Cerberus from the gates of hell.
An adorable prologue shows the childhood Shaggy meeting the stray pup Scooby, introducing Blue Falcon as a toy and featuring the meddling kids' first mystery. Almost immediately after this, everything turns spacey, with Falcon's gleaming futuristic jet pursued by Dastardly's steampunk airship. This bigger-is-better approach never pays off, mainly because the frankenscript fails to construct a coherent narrative to hold each plot element together. Instead, the story instead just leaps from one set-piece to another. And the best bits are the throwaway comedy antics in between.

The animators and voice cast work together to create wonderfully wacky characters. The Mystery Inc gang is nicely realised, with added personality quirks and enjoyable parallels between three men and their canine sidekicks. But the filmmakers forgot that what made their nuttiness so enduring was the way they always debunked the magic. In addition, Scooby's distinctively silly speech-patterns have been blandly modified. And some side figures feel oddly shoehorned in, such as a random encounter with Captain Caveman (Morgan).

Young kids will love the general mayhem, although older ones may grow tired of the excessively messy idiocy, because the rambunctious plot never even attempts to make sense. The film is fast and frantic, but the story feels made up as it goes along, with pointless melodrama and overwrought action that feel like a distraction from the more endearing character comedy. The studio clearly thinks escalating spectacle is what makes a franchise, but it's the zany slapstick that will bring audiences back.

cert pg themes, violence 15.May.20

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