You know what’s really scary?
This movie exists.
I’ve mentioned the 2002 live-action Scooby-Doo movie before in the Spotlight, but outside of a full review (and I try to NOT review bad things, which doesn’t always happen with the comic reviews) I don’t know how else to show you. I think I need a hero, and luckily we have one. Eli Stone will tell you himself that he doesn’t have the best camera of the video reviewers (and if you ask me he needs a better cape, but you know what capes mean to me, and don’t tell him I said that), but it hasn’t interfered with his mission as the Cartoon Hero, to save the world from bad animation. In a series of reviews he calls “From Cartoons to Crap”, the Hero has expanded to looking at bad translations from animated to live-action, and there are a lot of those. In his latest, he takes a look at this nightmare of a movie.
A few things the Cartoon Hero didn’t add in his review. The first is that this is bad fanfic given a Hollywood budget. (And yes, good fanfics are out there so shut up.) For one thing you have Daphne and Fred kissing at the end. Know that the filmmakers actually went to fan boards for ideas of what fan Easter Eggs to put into the movie and it took Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the NOT-Matrix of Leadership to get it worse. The early direct-to-video movies also referenced the fan theory that something was going on between Fred and Daphne, but subtler and more “will-they-or-won’t-they”. The later DTV movies, even before following the What’s New Scooby-Doo mold, would end up dropping this entirely. However, both the later movies and What’s New were willing to keep Fred as a moron. Nice guys.
It’s what was taken out that is the most notable. I remember news stories mentioning that Shaggy and Scooby were going to be drug users (because certain parties can’t believe that someone can have that comically high a metabolism–in a comedy–or that you burn a lot of calories running from monsters all day) Velma was going to be a lesbian because…she wears a turtleneck? I don’t know, but that also came from the message boards.
As was the hatred of Scrappy-Doo. Mark Evanier, who didn’t create the character but did write the pilot for Scooby & Scrappy-Doo and pushed for his friend Lennie Weinrib to voice the character in the first season, wrote a six-part article about the character and ended with this.
(Lennie)’d send me links and I’d follow them to read how Scrappy had “ruined” the Scooby Doo series. I never quite understood the sentiment being voiced so long after Scrappy had done this alleged damage, and coming — as it often seemed — from people who weren’t that wild about the show before Scooby’s little nephew joined the team. Others seem to view the pre-Scrappy series as animation that compared favorably with Fantasia…but suddenly when this one character was added, it abruptly turned into a Saturday morning cartoon show.
I don’t know why some people hate him so. I don’t see that the show was any better the season before…and as I’ve explained here, his presence got the network to order another season. My read is that the folks who don’t like Scrappy are few in number but loud in voice. When I watch one of those 1979 episodes, I can’t possibly dislike Scrappy…because he makes me think of Lennie.
I recommend the full article if only to get some insight on how a pilot for an animated series was done at the time. Long story short: big headache. Not that it matters with the current state of Saturday Morning, though.
Personally, I’d say that if anything was responsible for the series going downhill, it was when the mysteries were replaced with Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy just running away from bullies, actual monsters and aliens, and occasionally doing odd jobs or working for Shaggy’s Uncle Fearless in his detective agency. That’s not what we came to see. Daphne would later return to the franchise as a reporter, thus explaining how they came across some of their mysteries, but the comedy was raised to ridiculous levels. For example, one story had the gang running across government agents hiding under a department store where a device stolen by “Codefinger” was hiding as a normal appliance while trying to get Scooby’s toaster fixed. It’s lamer than it sounds.
It took awhile for the show to get back to its roots, and Fred and Velma would make the occasional guest-appearance (Fred now being a mystery author and Velma a scientist–so the movie actually got something right)…and then came The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. You want to blame the fall on a character? Try Flim-Flam. To this day I hate that show.
SPOILER: Originally, Scrappy Doo was the not going to be the main villain. At the end of the film, Old Man Smithers aka “the Luna Ghost” from the beginning of the movie was going to be behind the event of the film.
So yeah, this movie was a total failure of storytelling and nostalgia. If you haven’t seen it, just watch the review again and remind yourself not to. So what should you watch this weekend? The original cartoons for one. For another…well, just check out this week’s Saturday Night Showcase. I found something cool. In the meantime check out the Cartoon Hero and his friends at Reviewers Unknown. He may not have the production values of other video reviewers I’ve put up here, but he is entertaining and informative and a pretty cool guy for letting me post the video.