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I'm probably going to take a beating for this, but I'm not going to bash Scooby-Do like most of my fellow critics. Not completely anyway. Why? Because I feel there is a valid reason to sit through the film, but I'll get to that in a second.
Scooby-Doo is, of course, based on the cartoon of the same name. And while Scooby is pretty well known, let's face it--this animated series never reached the same sort of success as say, The Flinstones. No, Scooby was more of a cult treasure, but a healthy run on the Cartoon network has given the pooch new-found success and this has lead to a healthy, first weekend at the box office despite a royal beating from the critic circuit.
Does this adaptation capture the spirit of the cartoon? As a whole, I'd say no. Is it lively and good for the kids? Aside from a couple of inside drug jokes and an outrageously lame scene involving a farting contest, I'd say it's acceptable for all ages.
The plot revolves around a now estranged Mystery Machine gang reuniting to solve a mystery at a theme park. It's all pretty basic and with exception of the identity of the bad guy (a sly little wink at Scooby fans), the storyline really falls flat.
Scooby-Doo the movie isn't particularly memorable. It's not well written at all and director Raja Gosnell (Big Mamma's House) does nothing to elevate the material. Freddie Prinze Jr. is an absolute bore (what else is new) as Freddy and that bad dye job does nothing to help matters. As Daphne, Sarah Michelle Gellar is no prize either. She only seems to be here to attract fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Linda Cardellini (from TV's Freaks and Geeks) is a decent Velma but other actresses could have done the same thing. None of these actors seem to bring the essence of their characters to life, and since that is the primary reason to see a cartoon turned movie, I doubt if many will be terribly impressed.
Scooby himself is another CGI effect but ten minutes into the movie, he sort of won me over in the same way the original Scooby did. His voice sounds the same and his spirit is in keeping with that of the character in the original series.
So your probably wondering why the two and a half star rating. MATTHEW LILLARD, MATTHEW LILLARD, MATTHEW LILLARD! Like Val Kilmer was Jim Morrison in The Doors, like Will Smith was Ali in Ali, and like Dustin Hoffman was Lenny Bruce in Lenny, Matthew Lillard is Shaggy in Scooby-Do. You probably think I'm going overboard with my praise but I'm really not. While Lillard is hardly in the same league as the previously mentioned actors, he is the only performer in this picture that really seems to be making an effort. Of all the cartoons to make the transition to live action films, Lillard embodies his character best. In fact, I would sit through this seemingly forgettable film again just to watch his performance. Not only does he have the energy and the mannerisms down but somehow he's managed to get Casey Kasem's voice down perfect. I'm not accustomed to giving a movie two more stars because of a performance, but with Scooby, I'm making an exception.
Thanks to Lillard, Scooby-Doo was not the disaster I thought it was going to be.
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