Man's Best Friend

Ghosts, hip-hop and Daphne - what more could you want?

For those of you who like the original "Scooby Doo" cartoon series, you will definitely enjoy this movie. This movie packs all the thrills, spills, laughs, and retains most of the originality of the show, with some great on-screen characterization of the original animated characters. "Scooby Doo" mixes a good blend of the original conventional cartoon formula and some unexpected new ideas, making the movie all the more fun to watch.

In case you are not familiar with the cartoon show, let me give you a bit of a background check. A group of four teenagers, Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy, and a dog named Scooby Doo, are all part of a detective agency called Mystery Inc, their specialty being cases involving spooks and ghouls and creepy, haunted castles.

The story takes off with the break-up of Mystery Inc, on account of ego clashes and rivalry between its members. Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Velma (Linda Cardellini) all go their separate ways, leaving Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby behind. Two years later, the five of them (including Scooby) are individually called upon to solve a mysterious case at an amusement park called "Spooky Island", by its owner, Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson).

Fred, Daphne and Velma agree to come in order to try and individually solve the case first. Shaggy and Scooby, however, are only there for the "all-you-can-eat" part of the deal. On getting there, they find that something very mysterious and strange is going on. All the teenagers who arrive at the island are in full-spirits, ready to have some fun leave almost as if they were mindless zombies. They soon realize that this is not just another "man-behind-the-mask" case, and that there are actual dark and supernatural forces at work here. They are up against ghouls who take over the bodies of these teenagers, and someone, or something, has been controlling these forces. It's now up to them to find out who and why...

"Scooby Doo" has a well-written storyline and screenplay, which includes some unexpected twists in the tale. It definitely has more substance than the usual Scooby plot (which should be expected, this being a big-screen movie). The movie captured my interest from the beginning to the end, with a well-paced storyline, and some great humour. What left me quite amused was the unusual twist at the end (this you have to see for yourself), which made the movie all the more worthwhile.

The characters of Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy are portrayed quite accurately. Matthew Lillard, however, takes the cake for being the closest anyone could ever get to Shaggy, with his squeaky voice and scared expressions on seeing a spook. The movie also features some guest appearances by celebrities Pamela Anderson and Sugar Ray.

In my opinion, the director, Raja Gosnell, who has also directed hits like "Big Momma’s House", deserves quite some credit. It's not easy bringing a crime-solving Great Dane onto the big screen. Even though Scoob is filled in by CGI, I thought the animation was quite impressive, and the creativity and uniqueness of this movie definitely deserves a thumbs-up.

The production in the movie is also commendable, bringing the Scooby feel to life, and blending it with some hip ‘90’s touches. The production sets are very impressive, especially the spooky castle and haunted factory.

The only part of the movie that proves to be a bit disappointing is the soundtrack. I may not listen to too much hip-hop, but after watching this movie, I would have a reason to dislike the genre altogether. The movie kicks off with a danceable version of the original Scooby-Doo theme song, redone by Shaggy, and titled "Shaggy, Where Are You", which kills the feel almost instantly, and leaves a lot to be desired. Although some of the songs (by Sugar Ray and Outkast) did add some spice, through most of the movie, the soundtrack fails to provide the right intensity to the moment.

Overall, Scooby Doo is one of the better cartoon-to-movie productions of our time, packed with some great special effects, storyline, humour and thrills. If you are in the mood of a not-so-serious movie with lots of laughs, then Scooby Doo is definitely worth a watch.

This article was first published on05 Oct 2002.