When I first heard about Scooby Doo being turned into a movie, I will confess to being rather reticent about seeing it. I am just old enough to remember the original Scooby Doo cartoons on rerun, and was at the high end of the right target age group when Scrappy Doo hit the scene, and of course remembered Scooby Doo with a certain love. Of course, the cartoon was actually pretty terrible; the writing was bad, the cliches came in at a rate of knots, and the animation was second rate... but that's what we all expected of Hanna-Barbara cartoons.
I digress: I had heard about SD the movie on the Internet quite early in production and let out a groan; my childhood was being raped again for a buck in Hollywood. Why? Why bother??? Then when I heard Scooby was going to be CGI I actually groaned again. Of course, there is no other way you could have pulled Scoob off on-screen without CGI, at least not realistically... but CGI... that's just so passe any more! I still enjoy the artistry in modern CGI, but to me it felt like SD was going to be done just to prove that it COULD be done with modern technology... not to tell a story.
So it came, I read a few online reviews that panned it and failed to be surprised. I caught the trailers and failed to be inspired. I steadfastly avoided the movie theatres and just didn't go see it.
Fast forward to July of 2003; SD is playing on Cinemax (I think) and I've got some time to kill. Aw, what the hell... could be good for background noise if nothing else...
So having sat through SD the Movie, what do I think? Well, as much as I wanted to hate it because it was Hollywood raping my childhood, I just couldn't. I'm not going to say I loved it because that wouldn't be true, but I'll be darned if I can't admit that it was a whole hell of a lot better than I expected. Let me fill you in;
The cast is incredible. They have a real on-screen chemistry that really makes the movie for me. Especially Matthew Lillard as Shaggy... if he hasn't just completely NAILED the character as perfectly as you could in live action, then I'm the queen of France. There's the romantic attraction between Daphne and Fred that comes out on-screen pretty much throughout, and of course the distant attraction Velma had for Fred is right there too. But do I detect a little bit of an attraction to Shaggy? Don't remember that in the cartoon... but I can accept that.
The story? Well, it's a hell of a lot better written than the cartoons! Yes, it borrows heavily from them (and borrows from some of the SD animated movies that have been made in the interim), but still it's an interesting story with a nice twist at the end that had me actually laughing out loud. Not Shakespeare by any stretch of the imagination... but a fun and engaging story that keeps your attention.
So what about the CGI Scoob? Wow is all I can say! I don't know what makes it more, the quality of the CGI or the way in which all the actors really made me believe they were sharing the screen with a 6'5" intelligent dog. The interactions were believable, and not once did I catch anyone making the mistake of looking in the wrong place on-screen (which is clearly evident in many instances where CGI characters are used). The personality is captured perfectly and translates Scooby from the two-color animation of my youth to a perfect rendition of how I envisaged him in my minds eye.
I'm sure many have heard about them already, but there are plenty of in-jokes that pepper the movie for those willing to pay attention. I won't say they're all laugh-out-loud funny, but they are amusing... and it was obvious pretty early on that the film-makers didn't like Scrappy Doo either (I know I didn't... I didn't even like him as a kid), but rather than pretend he never happened (*cough* Galactica 1980 *cough*) they actually bring him to life in this movie too... and actually he has one of the lines that made me laugh out loud (to those who have seen it, it's the line he never finishes saying...)
So did I love it as much as I loved Scooby as a kid? No. The movie was definitely not without flaws, and it did depart from the cartoons in some pretty major ways; for example one of the nice things about the cartoon (looking at it now from an adult's perspective) was that at the end of every episode it was reiterated however lightly that there are no such things as monsters, ghosts, ghouls etc. and that we as people are always responsible for these things. This is something I picked up on as a kid but didn't understand until I was an adult; and kids should be given that reassurance early in life that there are no monsters. The movie departed from that part of the formula... so personally I couldn't recommend the movie to younger (under about 8 or 9) children. However, even with these kids, recommend that a parent watch it with them... but of course there's plenty of adult-type humor in there too that will completely pass the kids by. To me that's the mark of a great kids movie these days; the ability to appeal to all ages.
Overall, I'd say a 7 out of 10.