Since I was little, I’ve always been quite obsessed with Scooby-Doo, and other classic Hanna-Barbera series such as The Jetsons, The Flintstones, and the many other 20+ knock offs of Scooby. However Scooby-Doo was always my favorite. It had horror, mystery, and a talking dog. I always fell in love with the spooky aesthetic and the comedic gags that would ensue. That was truly a great combo for me. Since 1969, Scooby-Doo has become one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time and has garnered many sequel series and spin offs, and like 45 direct to video films on top of that. You’ve got The New Scooby-Doo Movies, The 13th Ghosts of Scooby-Doo to even Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated. This franchise just can’t die and that is incredible to me. Recently, a new film, which was going to be the third theatrical Scooby-Doo film released on VOD titled SCOOB!
Directed by Tony Cervone, SCOOB! offers a brand new take on the mystery solving gang and their lovable talking dog, while paying respect to many classic notes of the original series. The film begins with a Pup Named Scooby-Doo influenced opening where we see Scooby and Shaggy first meet, then to how they meet the gang and solve their first mystery. This opening made me happy, yet I cried a little at the same time. The foreshadowing of the gang’s future and the use of the original Scooby-Doo: Where Are You score were some of my favorite moments from this. Then we see a beautifully animated recreation of the original opening credits, showcasing the gang solving mysteries as children growing up together staying close friends.
Throughout the film we see the message of heart and friendship, which is the central core of Scooby and Shaggy in the gang. Tony Cervone and the writers of the film, Matt Lieberman, Adam Sztykeil, Jack Donaldson, and Derek Elliot deeply understood the bond and inner flaws between the gang. They show great passion and love for this property and wanted to expand them further by including some other iconic Hanna-Barbera characters into the mix. Such as Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, Dick Dastardly, Muttley, and Captain Caveman. I feel these characters are here for more of a reason than to just be a part of some “Hanna-Barbera Universe,” which to me is an odd complaint I’ve seen with the film. These characters have always crossed over, and existed within the same universe. We had Laff-A-Lympics, The Jetsons Meets The Flintstones, etc. I feel bringing back these characters together was a great way to start this franchise and I feel there was more focus of this as well that I’ll get into.
After solving many mysteries for 10 years, the gang decides to take a step further to create their own business to help them out financially, and to solve more mysteries. They decide to hire a business analyst/entrepreneur and who’s better to judge their team than Simon Cowell? While he’s irrelevant (Scooby always has irrelevant guest stars) he serves to some importance. He judges the gang and sees their qualities, but their flaws. Which is Scooby and Shaggy. He saw them as dead weight and offered nothing, which made them upset and decided to take their anger out on bowling. The rest of the gang tried explaining to them thats now how they really feel about them, but it was no use. Why this moment is important in particular, it kick starts the character focus between the gang. While it’s generic and has been done multiple times before in many animated films, it’s never been done much in Scooby-Doo, it’s always thrown off to the side. Scooby-Doo 2 attempted at it, but it felt as if the gang never learned from it by the end? It feels kind of flat. And what I mean is. The importance of friendship.
Throughout the film, we see Shaggy and Scooby, who are iconic for being the most cowardly characters get put in bigger situations than they’ve ever experience, which also puts a larger task on the gang to go on a full investigation to discover why a suspicious man is after their friends and to save them before he gets to them. This suspicious man, known as Dick Dastardly, is a past criminal whose whole motivation is to go down to the underworld and save his best friend, Muttley and to steal the treasure stored past the gates. The only way to do so is to find the skulls of Cerebus (which is kinda like a generic adventure plot) and kidnap Scooby-Doo who is the great descendant of Alexander the Great’s dog and the only way of opening the gates of the underworld. What’s interesting with that is, that whole plot adds supernatural elements as a core to Scooby-Doo.
Dastardly wanting to save his best friend, contrasts with Scooby and Shaggy. Which as well; contrasts with Dynomutt and Blue Falcons son. The importance of man and dog are coherent through the film and is even shown with the ending of the messages left by Alexander the Great. It seems that they could potentially represent the 3 skulls of Cerebus as well. The gang realized the flaws of not having Scooby and shaggy around. Which kinda starts to make them fall apart a bit. So they share the same goal of trying to save their friends. They learn at the end that Shaggy and Scoobys friendship is the core of Mystery Inc and is the glue that holds them all together to keep solving more mysteries.
Dynomutt and Blue Falcons son, Brian, also have character arcs. We see Brian as a cowardly predecessor who has taken up his father’s mantle, but with all the burden placed onto him to carry that legacy. Which is a lot to digest for him. But then we slowly see Dynomutt start to warm up to him and shows him how Shaggy and Scooby, the most cowardly people they’ve ever met, are taking on the largest of monsters (that they never experienced before) in their own special way. Which inspires Brian to pursue being a hero to the world. And it parallels the opening, because Scooby and Shaggy are inspired by the original Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. While being cowardly, they dress up as their favorite superheroes who they know stand up for all evil.
Another thing I loved about this film was how it incorporated many elements from the entire franchise, the classic Where Are You/The Scooby-Doo Show score, the classic cartoon hijinks between Scooby and Shaggy. Fred’s iconic obsession with traps. There’s a lot of call backs and lots of references to Scooby and Hanna-Barbera lore which leaves more fun trying to find all of these references. The animation done by ReelFX was fantastic and just the detail by the art department itself is wonderful. I feel Tony Cervone, the director of this film who is a literal Scooby-Doo AND Hanna-Barbera historian, with the writers of the film deeply understood the core of the gang and the world they exist in to create this new engaging creative environment for them, that we never seen before with the franchise. It’s so fun to theorize some of the Easter eggs.
I was pleasantly shocked with the voice casting, while I will always love the originals more, I was fine with the new voices such as Amanda Seyfried’s Daphne and Zac Efrons Fred. I could tolerate Will Fortes Shaggy while I’d rather it be Mathew Lillard. And woof, Jason Isaacs performance as Dick Dastardly was brilliant, he captured the definite charm and soul of the character. His Dick Dastardly is my new favorite villain of recent years. This film shows the importance that it isn’t the mysteries that make up the Scooby gang. It’s the friendship between them and the challenges they will go through to keep them together. Yes the film does have flaws, such as some modern pop culture jokes that may not age well, the film may have fast pacing. But I was thoroughly entertained. I laughed and I cried a few times. The film awoken some of the good qualities of my childhood days watching reruns on Boomerang, but in a brand new setting I’ve never seen before that pays total respect to it. I’m so happy I got the chance to experience this film, as a huge Scooby-Doo fan, I may have a bias and this is all my own opinion. I give the film 4 and a 1/2 Scooby Snacks out of 5.
One more thing I’d like to go into, throughout the credits we see credit art that potentially teases the future of the films, such as a “Falcon Force” featuring Captain Caveman, Grape Ape, Atom-Ant, and Jabberjaw. However the one thing that stuck out to me the most was “R.O.S.I.E.” The art shows the Mystery Inc meeting up with Jonnny Quests father, Dr. Benton Quest, who has seemed to study up on Dick Dastardly robot minions, to create Frankenstein Jr, and blueprints for R.O.S.I.E, the iconic robot maid of The Jetsons house hold. Earlier in the film, we saw Dick replace the head of one of his robots with a vacuum cleaner piece as a unfair punishment. This robot befriended the gang after Daphne was kind to it and cleaned it up. Could’ve this been the inspiration for Rosie? ‘THE JETSONS’ is currently in production at Warner Animation Group. Maybe R.O.S.I.E is a huge success for Quest Industries, and we could see the film go into how much power big corporations have over the public. That’s all just a small theory of my own.
SCOOB (2020) is drected by Tony Cervone, written by Matt Lieberman, Adam Sztykiel, Jack C. Donaldson, and Derek Eliot. Starring Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Simon Cowell, and Frank Welker. The film is produced by Warner Animation Group.