The exclamation point at the end of “Scoob!” isn’t there for effect. It’s a warning to parents that this film is as hopped-up on sugar as a kid on Oct. 31.
Constantly driving, never resting for a moment, the new animated version of “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”, goes beyond the scary neighborhoods and into worlds even the Avengers might not tread.
It’s all off brand, you might say, particularly since it also includes a number of Hanna-Barbera characters who never interacted with the Mystery Inc. folks.
Wishing to expand their franchise and deal with more complex crimes, Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby begin a business (with the help of Simon Cowell’s money – no kidding) and quickly find themselves in another world where the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) tries to live up to his father’s past and live down his dog’s snide comments.
Their nemesis is Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), a two-bit criminal who seems to have diversified enough to afford spaceships and out-of-this-world travel. He has his own dog, Muttley, and a visit to ancient Greece that includes the skulls of Cerberus (look that one up at tomorrow’s Zoom class). “Scoob!” jumps the shark long before anyone calls for it, but does get some of the elements right.
The animation (right out of “The Incredibles” playbook) looks good and the new voices are appropriate. Will Forte takes over for Casey Kasem as Shaggy; Zac Efron is Fred, Amanda Seyfried is Daphne and Gina Rodriguez is Velma. Longtime voice actor Frank Welker handles Scooby’s lines and, frankly, they’re more than a pawful. Scooby rarely shuts up.
The scene-stealer, though, is Isaacs, who delights in every vowel that can be extended. He’s a worthy opponent, even though the plot doesn’t make sense, especially when it has stray characters who mean nothing to the audience now watching.
Director Tony Cervone must have been instructed to include as many characters as possible just to see which ones might stick. As a result, obscure animation stars turn up in the oddest places.
“Scoob!” works best when it’s grounded – Shaggy and Scooby bowling; Fred, Daphne and Velma negotiating. When they head into other worlds, ruh-roh.
There’s room for a rebooted classic, clearly. But this should have started small and enjoyed the simple pleasures that made the series last. Pushing three of the characters to the side just makes you wonder who this is for – audiences who love the concept or studios who want the merch it can sell.