When watching Scooby-Doo cartoons on Saturday mornings we never thought about what would happen if the crime solving group at Mystery Inc. was to actually break up. Well the unthinkable happens in this big-screen treatment as Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Velma (Linda Cardellini) decide to call it quits. They each believe they can solve mysteries on their own without each other's help. Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby-Doo (that lovable computer-generated Great Dane) are the ones left to carry on the name of Mystery Inc. (and get to keep the psychedelic van) but they refuse to solve any cases associated with the word "spooky." That is until the owner (Rowan Atkinson) of an amusement park called Spooky Island a favored hot spot for college spring breakers calls upon the quartet to reunite and find out why the college students are leaving the island as well-behaved zombies. As far-fetched as things get there are plenty of creepy goings-on to sufficiently freak Shaggy and Scooby out. Yet all ends well as the gang happily remembers why it is they make such a super-duper case-cracking team. As for the villain those of us true Scooby fans will rejoice when he is revealed (mask and all) and gets his comeuppance.
When trying to bring beloved cartoon icons to life the casting had better nail it right on the head. Luckily for Scooby-Doo it does. Real-life couple Prinze and Gellar do a fine job as Fred and Daphne and are given a little more to work with in the film than their animated counterparts were in the series. A terrible braggart Fred is the handsome front man for the group while Daphne takes some self-defense lessons to move beyond the "damsel-in-distress" role. Most importantly the two finally share a little lip-lock. (You always wanted them to on the cartoon show but of course it's a cartoon show--things like that don't happen.) It's Lillard as Shaggy and Cardellini as Velma however who truly hit it out of the park. Lillard has it all down--to the squeaky voice and the good-hearted hippie attitude and Cardellini gets Velma's nasally wisecracking retorts just right. As a bonus these two find their own love interests as well. It makes sense when you think about it. The Mystery Inc. gang are young and carefree--they deserve it.
Scooby isn't rocket science folks. You know going in that it's going to be pretty outrageous most of the time which it is. Yet just in the way The Brady Bunch Movie worked by mimicking the TV show the movie follows right along in the spirit of the original cartoon so it becomes immediately comfortable. There were some reservations before the film came out mainly in regards to how a computer-generated Scooby was going to hold up within a live-action movie. Interestingly Scooby isn't really the star of the show like you might think but rather just another integral part of the whole picture. He fits in just fine but you have to have a great Shaggy to compliment him which Lillard provides in spades. The real problem is that older fans might only be entertained by a few adult jokes (like the inference that drugs cause Shag and Scoob's endless hunger) and the fact that villain is a real surprise. This is really a film for the tween genre (8-12) with plenty of bathroom humor and slapstick comedy. It's not necessarily a bad thing but knowing that Scooby has a fan base which covers a wide range it would have been nice to have a few more in- jokes to make us adults fall out of our chairs--even if they went over the kids' heads at the same time.