In the new animated movie “Scoob!,” we find out how Scooby-Doo met Shaggy and how the inseparable duo first teamed up with the rest of the Mystery Inc. crew.
While the 3D look of the characters might throw you at first — and the fact that Scooby talks in nearly complete sentences, instead of just his traditional exclamations of “ruh-roh!” — the film wonderfully captures the silliness, sweetness and fun of the original series.
It also might make you tear up as the decade-long friendship of Shaggy and Scooby is put to the ultimate test.
The movie begins with a flashback of how a gyro-stealing stray dog and a lonely kid named Norville (aka Shaggy) met up on Venice Beach in California and quickly became best friends for life.
They cross paths with their future crime-solving pals — Fred, Velma and Daphne — one fateful Halloween night, where they unmask their first villain. Appropriately enough, Fred (voiced by Zac Efron) is dressed as a knight, Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) as Wonder Woman, and Velma (Gina Rodriguez) as Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg, while Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scoob are dressed up like Shaggy’s hero Blue Falcon and his robotic canine sidekick, Dynomutt.
The new-to-the-franchise voice actors all nail their characters. Veteran Scooby voicer Frank Welker returns as the snack-loving pooch, but it is a bit weird to have Scoob talk quite so much.
Cut to 10 years later, via a montage that recreates many of the classic “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” scenes. The team is pondering their next move which — gasp — might include ditching Shaggy and Scoob.
The villain this time around is mustachioed Dick Dastardly (a perfectly cast Jason Isaacs), another classic Hanna-Barbera character who’s sadly lost his own doggie BFF, the snickering Muttley. Dastardly’s current henchmen are small robots that — like the deceptively cute creatures in “Galaxy Quest” — can turn lethal at a moment’s notice. And they kind of steal the movie.
Shaggy is thrilled when his childhood heroes — Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and Dynomutt (Ken Jeong) — come to his and Scooby’s rescue, although it’s really Falcon’s pilot Dee Dee (Kiersey Clemons) doing most of the work. The film also brings in another Hanna-Barbera character, Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan), a character who doesn’t really add much to the proceedings.
The movie deftly manages to adapt the characters to the modern world while retaining their essential personality traits: Fred is still dashing (if a bit thick), Daphne is always resourceful and caring, and tech-savvy Velma is still the queen of research and tying up all the loose ends. And Shaggy and Scooby are still goofy, food-loving cowards, who inevitably come through in the end.
As in the newer “Scooby” cartoons, supernatural phenomena sometimes really is supernatural, but the gang is still ready to take down villains of all stripes.
There are lessons about heroism, friendship, and doing the right thing — all while throwing in classic bits like Scooby and Shaggy dressing up in costumes to momentarily distract the bad guys. There is no room, however, for any of Fred’s overly elaborate villain traps.
“Scoob!” is as loving an homage as the recent “Scoobynatural” crossover with TV series “Supernatural.” And it leaves the door open for more Hanna-Barbera team-ups.
I’m all for it. As long as they don’t bring back that annoying Scrappy-Doo.