There are few animated properties with the brand recognition of Scooby Doo. Much like the Looney Tunes, Mickey Mouse, and Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo is a classic cartoon that will be the subject of remakes and re-imaginings for the foreseeable future. The latest iteration of this franchise comes in the form of Tony Cervone’s Scoob!, starring Will Forte as Shaggy, Zac Efron as Freddy, Amanda Seyfried as Daphne, Gina Rodriguez as Velma, and Frank Welker reprising his role as Scooby Doo.
This film initially has many things going for it. The animation is crisp and beautiful, making the film a joy to watch. The film is vaguely reminiscent visually of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. While Scoob! is not nearly as inventive as that film, the two are still similar for of their detailed, colorful worlds, and abundance of awe-inspiring action. It also doesn’t hurt that these visuals are complimented by an impressive roster of voice talent. Will Forte absolutely steals the show as Shaggy, to the point that he completely embodies the role, similar to the way Matthew Lillard embodied the role in the live action Scooby Doo films of the early 2000s. Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Gina Rodriguez, and Frank Welker also do a solid job as the rest of Mystery Inc., and the cast is rounded out with talents such as Mark Wahlberg, Tracy Morgan, Ken Jeung, and Jason Isaacs.
While the visuals and voice talent go a long way in supporting this film, they’re unfortunately in service of a lackluster plot that hardly even feels like a Scooby Doo plot. The plot mainly centers around Scooby and Shaggy becoming a part of a globe-trotting plot involving fellow cartoon characters Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, and Dick Dastardly; and the rest of Mystery Inc. trying to reunite with their missing teammates. If this doesn’t sound like a Scooby Doo plot to you, then you would be correct. While there are some touching character arcs, such as Scooby and Shaggy reaffirming their friendship, and Mystery Inc. learning the value of sticking together as a team, they are unfortunately in service of a main story that barely resembles a typical Scooby Doo mystery at all, something which, if you’re a fan of the Scooby Doo series, would likely be a major disappointment.
While instead of simply being a typical Scooby Doo story involving mysteries, clues, and unmasking the perpetrator at the end of the film, Scoob! ends up unnecessarily complicating things by merging the characters of the Scooby Doo cartoon with the characters of Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, another cartoon made by the same creator of Scooby Doo, Hanna-Barbera. This completely deviates the story from typical Scooby Doo fare, and while there are satisfying moments involving the Dynomutt cast, these moments are still a detriment to a Scooby Doo story.
There is certainly enjoyment to be derived from Scoob! but just not as a Scooby Doo film. While this film is still admittedly better than the early 2000s live-action iterations, Scoob! is shockingly inferior to those in the sense that, for all their faults, the early 2000s Scooby Doo films were Scooby Doo films through and through. This film, on the other hand, resembles Scooby Doo, but in terms of characters only. Those looking for an animated family film will be largely satisfied by high production values and a fairly boiler-plate story that occasionally shines with good character moments. However, if you are a fan, then while you might get something out of seeing emotional moments involving characters you know and love, you will ultimately be disappointed by a story that is nothing like the classic Scooby Doo plots that made you love the franchise in the first place.