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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    French, German, Italian, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired, English - Visually Impaired
  Extras
  • 7 Deleted scenes
  • 2 Audio commentary - Director Raja Gosnell plus producers Richard Suckle & Chuck Roven; Cast Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze Jr.
  • 3 Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - The Land of a Million Drums - Outkast
  • DVD-ROM features

Scooby-Doo

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 83 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Oh look, another beloved cartoon classic gets the live action treatment. RUH-ROH!

Yes, the wholesale plundering of our memories by creatively bereft Hollywood morons continues apace, despite the failure - either critically or at the box office - of almost, in fact surely it would be safe to say every, film of the genre that came before it. When you’re thinking of cinematic winners, The Flintstones, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle and their like scarcely come to mind (we’ll leave Josie and the Pussycats out of this whole equation thingy, ‘cos that rocked!). So why do they keep doing it?

Obviously they feel they have bankable, pre-promoted commodities that are in some way “sure things”. So why then, in the case of Scooby-Doo, would you take something many of us 30-somethings hold quite dear, then surgically remove anything we may find even vaguely amusing or reminiscent of that we remember so fondly, in order to deliver a brainless, G-rated bland-fest aimed at a market who have absolutely no clue as to who the hell these two chicks, two blokes and bloody great dumb dog even are? It’s stupefying in its stupidity!

So what are we left with?

After The Case of the Luna Ghost saw the demise of Mystery Inc. in a flurry of who-gets-all-the-credit jealousies, Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Buffy), Velma (Linda Cardellini) and Shaggy’n’Scooby (Matthew Lillard and a whole bunch of pixels in a vaguely canine configuration, respectively) all went their separate ways. It’s now two years later, and it seems they have all been invited along, unbeknownst to each other, to Spooky Island – a theme park that is a frightfully popular spot for college students to hang out in schoolies we... erm, spring break - by its owner, one Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson). It seems some uber-creepy stuff is going down, turning normal, rambunctious teenagers into zombified pillars of politeness. Needless to say Mystery Inc. manage to patch up their differences/egos just enough to go mystery-solving, in search of that ever-present Papa Smurf figure masterminding the evil stuff going down. After all, it’s always just some nut job in a Halloween mask, isn’t it?

It’s all enough to make any fan of Hanna Barbera’s original Scooby-Doo cartoon series hurl their half-chewed choc-covered eggplant burger (with hot sauce, natch). Let’s systematically dissect it all a bit more shall we?

First up, the acting. Now, anybody who thinks that the CGI in the film is actually the blonde guy, you’re forgiven. Seriously, this Freddie Prinze Jr. bloke is about as 3D as a square of toilet paper, but has nowhere near the acting range. I mean, Fred was no super-brain in the real Scooby-Doo, but here is a guy who actually manages to say in one of the extra features, with a completely straight face, that the cartoon series is “brilliant American literature”. Now it was fun, but come on! Similarly, Buffy isn’t given much to do, but she does wear purple well. We know she’s a more than capable actor, and certain people who happen to be typing this love a certain show she stars in, so we’ll move on… Next up, we have Linda Cardellini as the very orange-clad Velma. Quite frankly, she rocks. She puts in a fabulous performance, nails the character remarkably well, and for her troubles gets most of her scenes left on the floor of the cutting room - she should be really pissed off. The other shining light is Matthew Lillard – like man, this guy like is Shaggy, like you know? He should be hosting American Top 40 dammit! We can wonder forever if he’s actually acting or if he’s just doing what comes naturally, however either way he at least gives us something in the film to find vaguely entertaining. So what about Rowan Atkinson? He apparently turned down this role on innumerable occasions before reluctantly caving and accepting it after Johnny English did a momentous belly flop. Boy oh boy it shows…

The effects! Yeah, they’ve got to be “state of the art” and like way groovy, yeah? Hmm. Let’s start with Scooby-Doo himself – yes, sorry kids, he’s actually not real – he’s the creation of a team of boffins. Can you say “bof-fin”? Very good! He just doesn’t really seem to evoke the spirit of the Scooby we all remember – maybe he just wasn’t meant to be given a third dimension? He is quite obviously an effect at times, the lighting and certain juddery moments in particular hinting at it, still the younger kids – inexplicably the target audience here – are unlikely to be too fussed as they happily giggle away at the big silly puppy. Other effects fare much the same – they’re OK, but regularly glaringly obvious - and how original is taking the Grinch and simply colouring him pink to pass him off as a bad guy? Honestly! Otherwise, the sets truly are magnificent, bringing to life a remarkably cartoonish world full of roller coasters and other theme park staples with great gusto – even the Mystery Machine looks pretty cool, despite them having souped up the paint job (smacks!)

Direction? Remember this name – Raja Gosnell. He’s got an air of smarmy about him and seems to suffer from the highly deluded impression that despite the rather by-numbers directorial approach taken, and by slutting himself for a kids rating at the expense of any semblance of cohesion, he has created some form of artistic statement on Scooby-Doo. He hasn’t. Next…

And now for the script... What could have been a very clever, double-edged story seems to have been tragically lobotomised somewhere along the line. What’s left is kiddie-fodder of the lowest order, even with a childish burps’n’farts scene that would have South Park’s Terrance and Philip gaping in an awestruck silence at the sheer gratuitousness of it all. Inexplicably the odd drug reference related to Shaggy is left wafting about, as are way too many pervy cleavage shots for a kid’s film, and to be honest with the generally low standard of scenes that were cut – one including a line described as “edgy” by the idiot boy that directed this, so obviously in his vocabulary “edgy” is synonymous with ”highly offensive” – it looks like this little sucker was a gobbler from the moment it was conceived.

  Video
Contract

Zoinks! This puppy’s colourful. Well, actually Scooby’s boring old brown… but everything else is really vivid! From the defiantly solid-coloured gang to the Mystery Machine to most anything you look at that gets its head on screen, it’s a retina-assaulting rainbow fest, and like man it looks funky on this DVD. Another 1.85:1-made film cropped slightly to 1.78:1 for home release – saying it’s 1.85:1 on the cover doesn’t stop us noticing you know – it’s all anamorphically enhanced just as it should be.

Strangely for a film that is still pooping in its nappies it’s so young, the picture isn’t as perfect as you’d expect. Sure the print is clean, and there’s detail aplenty – enough to show up even more how dodgy some of the CG effects really are - however there are reasons not to be cheerful with the likes of occasional (admittedly minor) grain, some slight edge enhancement and The Case of the Shimmering Shingles. Sure, I’m being a little nit-picky, but something has to distinguish between all of these modern-day transfers you know! Oh yes, the layer change is rather dodgy, but not excessively so, occurring mid-scene in a fairly still and quiet spot and we don’t suffer the ludicrous six second cut in region 4 that our English cousins have to live with.

  Audio
Contract

Alright! Mucho popcorn flick equals mucho fabbo sound, right? BA-BOW! (If anybody can suggest a more suitable way to type that Family Feud “you blew it, loser” sound then I’m all ears…)

Sure it’s in Dolby Digital 5.1, however the frenetic sensory overload that is the soundtrack doesn’t really take great advantage of having six black boxes to emanate from. It’s not rubbish by any means, just what we do get is a surprisingly front-biased mix, that deigns to invite the rears along on some occasions for a bit of added ambience, but generally snubs them like they’re nerds at a school dance. There are a few Scooby Snacks thrown the way of the rubroofroof when it comes to DOOFing up the soundtrack, plus a few meaty-bitey thuds, booms and bangs throughout get to rattle the old jewellery a touch. Mercifully all the humans within are synched well, although not surprisingly in one scene involving a bit of swapping about of bods it isn’t quite perfect.

The often mushy, diet-Elfman soundtrack comes from David Newman, and no more shall be said about it as I have been mean enough to him already… What he did cobble together shares time with a selection of chart fodder quite obviously assembled by a marketing department. Read this and try not to cower - Outkast, Baja Men, MXPX… Fiona Horne (!) and, in what somebody is probably still patting themselves on the back for, thinking it’s like a really cool and funny and ironic move (rather than appallingly predictable), Shaggy pops up mumbling something or other. That’s Shaggy the chart clogger-upperer, not Shaggy the character in the film – like, isn’t that all freaky and stuff? Suffice to say when Musical Youth’s Pass the Dutchie is the funkiest thing on the soundtrack then either we’re all in big aural trouble, or I’m simply too old for this shit…

  Extras
Contract

Well, they say a turkey needs all the trimmings, and so there’s a fair bit on offer here in the extras stakes, starting from simply mind-numbingly messy and difficult to take in cartoon-styled animated menus, with our old pal the rendered Rooby running ‘round wreaking ravoc reveryrere…

It all starts with two audio commentaries. The first is from the director Raja Gosnell and producers Richard Suckle and Chuck Roven. One of those annoying cut and paste jobbies, perhaps the latter two couldn’t stand the sight of Gosnell, as they are quite obviously separate recordings. As such it’s a very piecemeal jaunt through more of the production side of things, deftly avoiding – much like the actual film – most anything to do with story. The second offering is better in some ways, and worse in others. The original Scooby gang’s all here, well those who pretend to be them in the film – so that’s Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Buffy and the Human Twinkie (Jr.). If you weren’t convinced that Buffy has married an idiot before this, you certainly will be afterwards, as he whines and moans his way through this like one of those miserable old Aunts you just want to give a decent slap to. What a dud! Buffy actually bothers to chime up sometimes, which is nice – it’s a shame she’s too lazy to do it on her regular gig, goodness knows five seasons in she’s had enough opportunities – Cardellini’s OK and thankfully Lillard’s around to keep it all vaguely entertaining. It is riddled with massive gaps, between each person’s favouritest bit ever – until their next favouritest bit ever comes along a minute later…

How about some deleted scenes then? They’ll show us how if not for those meddling editors this would have been a masterful flick full of creative whimsy, solid scripting and with a timeline that’s not a cheap impersonation of a cheese grater, right? Ahem. There’s seven of these un-enhanced, 1.78:1 snips in all – a groovy alternate opening (starring the original animated characters), Flashbacks, Nightmare Boulevard, Velma’s Song (a highlight!), Locker Room, Daphne’s Spirit Thingy and Heart Attack. If you can deal with it, there’s an optional commentary with the director, where he basically repeats the mantra, “cut for pacing – didn’t test well – cut for ratings” ad infinitum. Somebody really should kill test audiences – or perhaps the morons who kowtow to their every stupid suggestion... "It needs raisins in it"... "Raja baby, we need raisins"...

Hey, there’s a 22-minute making-of, that’s got to be full of meaty goodness, right? Entitled Unmasking the Mystery, it’s typical promo slush featuring the usual interviews with all and sundry, a few glimpses at B-roll footage, much ado about acting to a nonexistent Scooby, a bit of computer boffinry and clips from the “finished” film. It’s made a little better by the presence of Mr Joseph Barbera and a brief look at the original cartoon, but only a little…

There’s a gaggle of three full frame featurettes to play with, can they entertain us? Well, suffice to say they total eight minutes in length… First up is the longest at 4:24, Scary Places, which is a brief look at the production design. The second, the incorrectly named The Mystery Van (slack!), is a whole 1:04 guided tour of The Mystery MACHINE by Shaggy (can you believe it took them 55 attempts to muck up the original design!). This selection is rounded out by the rather self-explanatory Daphne Fight Scene which clocks in at 2:30.

A grab bag of other bits and pieces completes the package – a 19-second ad for the soundtrack; a music video of Outkast’s The Land of a Million Drums, featuring a bit of Shaggy action; some DVD ROM stuff for those equipped, including some rudimentary games as well as the usual weblinks etc; and a very easily found Easter egg which you can find out more about, if you so desire, by taking a quick trip into our Easter eggs section…

  Overall  
Contract

If you’re thinking Scooby-Doo may be just the thing to scare your ol' patootie with, then perhaps it will – but most likely for all the wrong reasons. If you have ANY treasured memories of the original ‘70s cartoon show – which had Shakespearian intrigue going for it compared to this, as well as some semblance of sensible structure - then you’re implored to run away from this disc faster than Scooby from somebody with a sheet over their head. Seen as an original creation with no history to its subject matter then sure it’s mildly entertaining fluff that kids may enjoy – goodness knows it doesn’t stay around long enough to drag – but this is messing with things people treasure, and jinkies it’s messing badly.

Despite the decent enough quality of video, audio and extras on this home release, Scooby-Doo as a film is basically a big steamy pile of rog rurd.

Needless to say two sequels are in the works...


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      And I quote...
    "RUH-ROH!"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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