Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"The film retains its cartoon quality, without winking at the audience or pretending it's all too silly for words."

Let's not be snobbish about this. Scooby-Doo is a cartoon with people. It doesn't pretend to be anything else. Compared to The Flintstones, it is a work of imagination, artless as anything, but crammed with special effects. What more does a kid want? Harry Potter? Well, yes, but this is based on a Hanna-Barbera animated series that never disturbed a brain cell. Also, it's American.

For those literary types who don't switch on TV until after the junior watershed, Scooby is a Great Dane who talks. His best pal is Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) - "I'm just the dude who carries the bags" - a good-hearted idiot who likes food and is scared of ghosts. Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr) fancies himself rotten, while Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has a maiden-in-distress complex - she's always the maiden. Then there's the dorky clever one, Velma (Linda Cardellini), who thinks up the ideas for Fred to take the credit. Together they are The Mystery Machine, an unofficial paranormal detective agency.

There are two stories here, a ghost in a warehouse that turns out to be something else and the curse of Spooky Island that brainwashes paying customers. The second has Rowan Atkinson selling his soul to mammon and playing a role that Blackadder would have kicked down the cellar stairs. He is Emile Mondavarious, the owner of Spooky Island, who is up to no good, if, indeed, it is he and not a shape-changing demon.

The film retains its cartoon quality, without winking at the audience or pretending it's all too silly for words. It is neither campy, nor a pastiche, but indisputably itself, a mixture of teenage pantomime and a magic show. Scooby's computer-generated character only works because Lillard is inspired and they are almost always together.

The effects take over eventually and there is no point in worrying about the plot. It's an explosion of madcap devises, horrible monsters, dangerous contraptions, "looking for clues and kicking butt." The fun is frenetic. The worst insult appears to be "Your mum eats cat's poo." Shaggy and Scooby's favourite sport is competitive farting. The cry on the lips of many remains: "Scooby Doo, we love you."

In the end, you do, too. A little.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2002
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Fantastic adventures of an ex-cartoon Great Dane and his amateur detective friends.
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Director: Raja Gosnell

Writer: James Gunn, based on cartoon characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera

Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson, Isla Fisher, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Steven Grives, Charles Stan Frazier, Craig Bullock, Matthew Murphy Karges, Mark McGrath, Rodney Sheppard, Sam Greco, Charles Cousins

Year: 2002

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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