2 out of 5 stars
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Is it really a surprise that the goofy and intensely silly 1970s cartoon series would turn into this goofy and intensely silly big screen movie? At least there's an unhinged stream of humour running through the film--just about enough to keep us laughing amid the obnoxious stupidity. As it starts, the gang from Mystery Inc has a big fight and splits up. The vain Fred (Prinze), self-absorbed Daphne (Gellar) and brainy Velma (Cardellini) clash egos, leaving the easygoing Shaggy (Lillard) and his faithful pooch Scooby (voiced by Fanning) on their own. Years later they're all invited to the creepy teen holiday resort Spooky Island, where the owner (Atkinson) needs them to put aside their differences and work together to solve a mystery. And of course save the world.

It's not like anyone expects this to have Shakespearean depth of character or anything. If it weren't profoundly brainless it wouldn't be Scooby-Doo! It's obvious that writer Gunn steeped himself a bit too deeply in Scooby-lore, highlighting every little aspect of the series with surprisingly subtle (and warped) humour, even if the plot itself is deeply dull, really. Meanwhile the film's production design does everything it can to distract us with obnoxious sets and a general visual ugliness. Instead of actually direct the film, Gosnell just keeps everything loud and moving, with over-choreographed action and ludicrously overdone effects. Where it works best is in the cast, all of whom dive straight in and actually manage to create characters out of the chaos, especially in the central Shaggy-Scooby relationship. And Scooby himself is remarkable--a CGI character who actually springs to life and integrates perfectly into the cast. But the film only really entertains when we're not thinking about it. Switch off your brain and enjoy the sublime one-liners and a couple of hilarious action sequences.

cert PG innuendo, violence, language 25.Jun.02

dir Raja Gosnell
scr James Gunn
with Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson, Isla Fisher, Miguel Nunez Jr, Neil Fanning, Scott Innes, Steven Grives, Sam Greco, Pamela Anderson, Mark McGrath
release US 14.Jun.02; UK 12.Jul.02
02/Australia 1h26

Reapin' rizards! Scooby and Shaggy (Lillard) have a quiet meal in the Mystery Inc van...

lillard gellar prinze atkinson

rich cline and james gunn
Rich interviews screenwriter James Gunn at the St Louis Film Festival in Nov.02 (I'm the poor guy on the left, he's the rich man on the right).

See also: SCOOBY DOO 2 (2003)

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
where are you send your review to Shadows... "Some movies are so bad they are best forgotten. However, after enduring Scooby-Doo, I was compelled to look up a past appraisal of Mr Magoo, another live-action atrocity based on a vintage cartoon series, by Roger Ebert. He wrote: 'Mr Magoo is transcendently bad. It soars above ordinary badness as the eagle outreaches the fly. There is not a laugh in it. Not one. I counted. Perhaps this project was simply a bad idea from the beginning, and no script, no director, no actor, could have saved it.' Now, replace Mr Magoo with Scooby-Doo (hey, it rhymes). Then again, I'm not the target audience (what a relief). The rugrats would be thrilled by the slapstick antics while adults bored out of their friggin' minds (there's some pleasant distraction by Gellar but that can only do so much). One more thing, Prinze should seriously consider changing his name into a symbol, preferably that of a stop-sign. I don't know who is more annoying: him or the CG-rendering of Scooby-Doo, which is Jar Jar Binks redux." --Douglas Tseng, Singapore 18.Jun.02

where are you "After watching this latest cartoon-to-live-action adaptation, I felt that the recent Spider-man was a pile of dog-poo in comparison. This film is amazing, from superb song tracks like 'Bump in the Night' by Allstars to James Gunn's multi-targeting screenplay. Best of all is Lillard's Oscar-worthy performance as Shaggy. The CGI Scooby is excellent and out-acts the rest of the cast. The interaction between Scooby and Shaggy creates some genuine scenes of pathos that are on a par with serious drama films; I can't praise this movie any more than that. Don't go to see this movie ... if you're a witless snob that doesn't enjoy classic Scooby cartoons. Anyone else, make the effort as it's a roller-coaster ride of pure summer blockbuster fun. Verdict: four and a half out of five. Brilliant." --Paul Roberts, Holyhead, Wales 20.Jul.02

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall