Friday, May 20, 2005

Scooby Doo Review

Yeah, this is just what you need-- long reviews of the full-length Scooby Doo movies. In case you're remotely interested, read on:

I haven't seen all of the Scooby Doo movies but I've probably sat through more than anyone who doesn't have kids (or doesn't live in a parental unit's basement). We've got DVDs for the first two seasons of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (the good episodes) and the first installment of The New Scooby Doo Movies (the series where they team up with the Harlem Globetrotters, Batman, the Three Stooges, Speed Buggy, and washed-up real celebrities). I'll try to review those soon but here's the stand-alone movies starring Scooby Doo:

Live Action

Scooby Doo (the live action movie) 2002

Appearance by Scrappy: Yes (but actually one of the high points of the movie)
Romance: Shaggy & Mary Jane (rehash of an old animated character); Fred and Daphne; Velma and some guy in a Led Zeppelin shirt
Scully/Mulder: about 90% Mulder
Monsters: Assorted purple dog-demons, Scrappy, Luna Ghost (introduction only)
Kinky sex: Director Raja Gosnell is the kiddie version of Russ Meyer—to appear in his movies, a woman must exhibit enormous hooters (extras, Velma, Shaggy's love interest, Pamela Anderson) with the exception of Daphne (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar). Most porn flicks don't linger so much on cleavage. Plus, for transgendered fun, Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, and Velma repeatedly switch bodies and sexes (while in Daphne's body, Fred wants to look at himself naked).

Only a matter of minutes into the story, Pamela Anderson makes an appearance playing herself, setting the tone for the rest of the movie—fart jokes for kids, massive jugs for aging male Gen-xers. Rowan Atkinson's gives least funny performance of his life (although he's still the best thing in the movie). Freddie Prinze Jr. plays Fred as a narcissistic idiot who tried to compliment Velma by telling her she "turns him on" (more the fault of the writer and director than the actor). Of the cast, Matthew Lillard does an amazing job as Shaggy, and the CGI Scooby works well, but the rest of the cast acts like they won their roles in a poker game.

Scooby Doo II: Monsters Unleashed 2004

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Fred and Daphne; Velma and Seth Green (no sign of Mary Jane or the guy in the Zeppelin shirt)
Scully/Mulder: A decent blend of both
Monsters: The Black Knight, the Tar Monster, the Pterodactyl Ghost, the 10,000 Volt Ghost, Captain Cutler, the Zombie (from "Which Witch is Which"), Miner Forty-Niner, and more.
Kinky sex: Continuing with director Raja Gosnell's adoration of cleavage and transsexual transformations, plenty of stacked extras, and Shaggy drinks a potion and changes into a "chick" from the neck down (yes, a very well-endowed chick)

After the horrible first Star Trek movie, the director of the sequel went back to the original series and revived old characters hellbent on revenge. Raja Gosnell (or someone on his staff) did the same with the live action Scooby sequel, and while Monsters Unleashed is no Wrath of Khan, it's infinitely better than the first movie. The premise is that Coolsville (the city where Scooby lives, for you uninitiated) build a museum in honor of all the fake ghosts the gang has busted. A mystery man crashed the museum's opening, vows revenge, and brings the old monsters to life. Along the way, Shaggy and Scooby investigate a hangout for their old villains including Redbeard and the original Black Ghost.
Not a great movie but much, much better than the first.

New and Improved Scooby

Scooby Doo on Zombie Island 1998

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Scully/Mulder: 85% Mulder (Daphne uses the word "skeptic" as an insult)
Romance: A maid hits on Fred; Daphne flirts with the gardener
Monsters: Zombies, ghosts, cat creatures, pirates, lots of fakes (intro. only)
Kinky sex: Women (and old man) turn into giant cats (appealing to Furries, I guess)

After the team breaks up (same premise of the live action movie), they are drawn together to investigate what appears to be real monsters on a remote island. At night zombies begin to rise from the swamp. Instead of typical zombies, these undead actually had character and included fat tourists in Hawaiian shirts and cameras around their necks, Chicago mobsters, pirates, and soldiers from the Civil War. In the end, the zombies turn out to be good guys, trying to protect the gang from the real villains, cat/human creatures in thrall to their cat god (apparently French colonists of Louisiana worshiped pagan cat gods. . . just like Pat Robertson says).

This was the first "monsters are real" and updates the gang's clothes and model of their van. Nothing to write home about but better than the live action version. Mark Hamill did the voice talent for one of the characters, always a plus.

Scooby Doo and the Witches Ghost 1999

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Scully/Mulder: 60% Mulder
Romance: Nothing much
Monster: fake witch; real witch and warlock
Kinky sex: Voice talent by Tim Currie; Hex Girls (goth girl rock group)

The story: as a publicity stunt, a town conspires to fake a ghost based on a local witch. It backfires when the real ghost shows up.

The most notable thing about Witch's Ghost is its depiction of Wiccans. Wiccans are repeatedly described as good and noble, contrasted to the evil witch. Okay, I'm normally cool with that, but here Wicca is treated as a race, with one of the characters described as "one-fourth Wiccan on my mother's side." Am I one-quarter Episcopalian on my father's side? I got the impression that the writers wanted to appease Wiccans into not protesting the negative portrayal of witch but didn't want to actually spend any time on research. I can understand—I didn't spend any time on research for these reviews but I'm not getting paid for this.

Scooby Doo and the Alien Invaders 2000

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Shaggy and Crystal (hippy chick he meets); Scooby and Amber (her dog)
Scully/Mulder: Blend of both
Monster: fake aliens; real aliens; jackalope
Kinky sex: Shaggy envisions a tie-dye wedding to Crystal with a resulting Shaggy Jr. and puppies; old timer describes his probing by aliens

Probably the best "updated" Scooby movies, the gang's van breaks down in the middle of the desert near a town heavily trafficked by aliens. Both Mark Hamill and -- (the guy who does Dale in King of the Hill) provide voice talent. The key plot point is Shaggy's romance which leads him to burst into song, "I met a girl who says ‘Groovy.'"

Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase 2001

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Nothing much
Scully/Mulder: 90% Mulder
Monster: sentient computer virus; the Gator Ghoul, the Creeper, the Tar Monster, Jaguaro, and shark-surfing Iron Face.
Kinky sex: Scooby and gang are transported into a computer game, presumably with Internet access.

The premise is weak: Trapped in a computer game based on their old adventures, the gang needs to complete all ten levels to escape. The first nine are uninspired but the last brings them back to the old soda shop where they meet retro-versions of themselves and their old foes mentioned above. Maybe I'm more nostalgic than most but this made the whole thing worthwhile.

Retro Movies

Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire 2003

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Minor flirting
Scully/Mulder: 99% Scully
Monster: Australian Bunyip which in folklore is a type of aquatic demon but presented here as a kind of vampire overlord; vampires
Kinky sex: Hex girls reappear

The first of the retro-episodes. The Mystery SUV is gone, replaced by the classic look. The clothes are back to the old style (with a slight change for Fred) and most importantly the monsters are back to being guys in masks. It was a break to get rid of the updated looks and lose the "monsters are real" motif but the solution to the mystery is so convoluted, it makes Murder by Death seem straight-forward.

After monkeying around for a replacement voice for Scooby Doo (Don Messick, the original voice, passed on a while back), HB had limited degrees of success. With Vampire, Frank Welker, arguably the greatest voice talent in the history of animation, takes over. Casey Kasem is back for the voice of Shaggy. Their commentary on the DVD is far better than the actual movie.

Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico 2003

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Not among the gang
Scully/Mulder: 100% Scully
Monster: chupacabra (which looks more like Bigfoot than cryptozoologist's descriptions); assorted Aztec gods and animal; fat guy in skeleton costume
Kinky sex: Daphne kidnaped and almost sacrificed in Aztec temple

A few funny moments but mainly blehh. Not terrible, just there (think The New Scooby Doo Show before the appearance of Scrappy but after Scooby Dum). It does point out a real-life fact that many cryptozoologists have failed to grasp—that Nessie, Bigfoot, the Yeti, and many other "real" monsters at least have roots in folklore, but the chupacabra popped up in recent times, probably the result of bad acid.

Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness Monster

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Nothing special
Scully/Mulder: 80% Scully
Monster: Nessie (duh)
Kinky sex: Uh, men in kilts?

One of the better retro-episodes, the gang visit Daphne's relatives in Scotland. Her family is desperately trying to shake their reputations. It seems it's not just Daph who is disaster-prone—it's the whole family. The gang is joined by a Kevin Smith-like character who rides around in a Mystery Machine knockoff, the Loch Ness Monster Machine. Although the monster menacing Daphne's family is proven to be fake, Velma and other characters give credence the idea of a real monster (which Scooby alone sees at the very end).

Aloha Scooby Doo 2005

Appearance by Scrappy: No
Romance: Not that I recall
Scully/Mulder: 100% Scully
Monster: Big Hawaiian monster, lots of little Hawaiian monsters, volcano
Kinky sex: You'd think with everyone on the beach and threatened with imminent death something would come up, but no.

Continuing with the bleh-level cartoons, Aloha will entertain kids for a few viewings before they get sick of it. Again, a couple of good jokes but not enough to make you open your wallet.

Old Movies

Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers

Appearance by Scrappy: Yes
Scully/Mulder: 100% Mulder
Romance: Not that I remember
Monsters: Lots of lame ones
Kinky sex: Nothing so enjoyable

So bad I couldn't watch more than ten minutes. From what I saw, Scrappy leads Shaggy and Scooby around a haunted house. The second-worst of the Scooby series. I saw about an equal amount of Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (where Dracula turns Shaggy into a werewolf to force him to join an all-monster car race) but it was just bad, not hideously offensive like Scrappy and the Boo Brothers.

Scooby Doo Goes Hollywood 1979

Appearance by Scrappy: No (but so bad that Scrappy would have actually helped)
Romance: None
Scully/Mulder: Neither—nothing paranormal (beyond talking dog)
Monsters: Nothing really
Kinky sex:Only for intense masochists

This is one of the worst cartoons ever made (and I saw The Care Bear Movie). The premise is that Scooby wants to quit working on his old show to become a big star. He and Shaggy send horrible parodies of Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Love Boat, and assorted other pieces of crap to a television exec. Lots and lots of really bad songs.

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