Scoob is a movie about a boy and his dog opening a portal to Hell with his friends. Before we dive into that, let’s take a moment to appreciate how a cartoon franchise can last for 51 years without a stable formula. Way back when I was a little kid, Scooby-Doo hopped between team-ups, a show with Vincent Price and a youthful Prequel series. That’s right, Zoomers. There was a point in American cartoon history where teenagers were seen as too old and we need kid and baby versions of them.
What’s so strange about a Scooby-Doo movie is how much of the film is dedicated to Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. Originally created a spin-off show for The Scooby-Doo Hour in the late 70s, Blue Falcon was a send-up of the 60s Batman. Although, a send-up that used a sitcom laugh track and relied heavily on Dynomutt to keep the laughs going. The show only lasted for 2 years, but the characters have remained on the edges of the Hanna Barbara universe for decades.
As much as I love Will Forte, what was up to taking the job away from Matthew Lillard? Hell, you let Frank Welker voice Fred for 50 years until you decided the kids dig Zac Efron more. I guess Warner Brothers must believe that America’s children were really into Last Man on Earth and Charlie St. Cloud.
Being a fan of classic animation properties, I loosely followed this one in the news for a bit. At one point, it was more of an obvious Hanna Barbara cinematic universe starting point with cameos from Grape Ape, Atom Ant and more. But, those cameos got scaled back to Captain Caveman, Blue Falcon, the Wacky Races villains and one of the Teen Angels.
It makes sense, as this top heavy film was already a hard sell for an audience more disconnected from the big properties of their parents and grandparents’ youth. Every generation is different, but it seems this one is way more dedicated to killing older pop culture touchstones. Some of it is warranted, while the rest feel as though it’s for sport. What does that mean for a people when anything mainstream is deemed to be part of an antiquated monoculture?
RUH-ROH, HE’S GOING ON A RANT
Scooby-Doo doesn’t know what it is. But, it also set the mold for so many Hanna Barbara shows that followed. How does that work? Name any pop culture franchise that peaks in its first iteration and then struggles to maintain an identity throughout the decades. As much as you might not like Star Wars or Star Trek, they still fairly consistent for the most part. What else has gone from 60s show to Vincent Price team-ups to kid versions then teaming up with the WWE and KISS?
Keeping a cartoon vibrant through the years is a tall order. Look at the eras of wrong-sounding Muppets and Looney Tunes in over-sized t-shirts that we’ve had to endure. Yet, none of them have struggled as hard to keep finding something to say. Honestly, it feels like Scooby had a 3 year initial run and has spent the last 50 years trying to repaint that approach for new generations.
Every new crop of creative talent thinks they have something to say by adding in Ska music or trying to find a new creative tie-in. But, all the core audience wants is just something that makes them feel like the original iteration. Also, Jason Isaacs as Dick Dastardly is the low-key MVP of the film. Check it out and let me know what you think of Scoob.