Your scribe is proud to be considered something of an authority on the cinematic incarnations of Top Cat, quoted as an august source on Wikipedia’s pages for both Top Cat: The Movie and Top Cat Returns. It was, of course, the latter film that investigated how TC met the rest of his gang, and it’s to the credit of the makers of Scoob! that they similarly go straight for the jugular in a lengthy opening describing how Shaggy and Scooby meet, and also their first adventure with Fred, Velma, Daphne and the Mystery Machine.
But this ain’t yo mamma’s Scooby Doo, or even your grandmother’s; the strains of Snoop Dogg’s California Roll are there as the film begins, and scattered references to Ikea, Netflix and Tinder are sewn to remind us that this is 2020, or at least the 2020 we were expecting. Fred is described as a ‘poor man’s Hemsworth’, Velma is cos-playing as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Scooby, full name Scooby Dooby Doo, is revealed as being related to the dog of Alexander The Great. There’s a whole slew of in-jokes and references here, notably with reboots for Dick Dastardly, (Jason Isaacs) and his dog Mutley, plus Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan).
After a short burst of old-school detective-work, Scoob! falls victim to the kind of inflated plotting that led Top Cat to fight a robot army in his feature debut. Shaggy and Scooby meets up with some super-heroes led by Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg on form) which is a cue for various plays on “Falcon around’. ‘Let’s keep this PG,’ says the Falcon as the film settles for some mild slapstick in and around an abandoned amusement park, and then in and out of various inter-dimensional portals; the trappings may have changed, but Scoob! is very much the same story as before.
Purists may balk at cameos for the likes of Simon Cowell, but Scoob! isn’t the travesty that might have been expected; the voice talent is well matched, and there’s plenty of knowing jokes for adults. Tony Cervone’s film should satisfy families peeking out into a post lockdown world, even if the makers have taken liberties and expanded on the old teen-detective format. That old-school haunted house stuff is fine for 20 minutes, but Scoob! wisely expands the size of the toy-box it opens, constructing a Scooby-Snack of huge proportions by layering beloved character after beloved characters and with a little post-modern mustard slapped on to help wash it all down.
Thanks to Warner Bros UK for early access to this film. Link below.