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‘SCOOB!’ is a Sweet and Funny Tale That’s Perfect for Kids – Review

No one expected Trolls 2 to redefine the landscape of cinema. But in a year serving up more plot twists than the entirety of M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography, it should come as no surprise that the success of the animated sequel would reshape how studios are releasing their shelved theatrical slate.

Some have accredited Trolls 2’s outperformance of its predecessor to its timing; as it provided kid-friendly entertainment to children staying at home during recent school closures. Universal declared that Trolls 2 was a big enough hit that despite multiplexes potentially reopening post the COVID-19 shutdown, the studio would continue to release theatrical movies day-and-date with PVOD.

This statement led to a heated standoff with AMC Entertainment – the biggest theater chain in the US – who happen to be on the verge of bankruptcy and is rumored to be purchased by digital giant Amazon. Needless to say, cinema has reached a breaking point, and with Warner Animation Group’s SCOOB! dropping on PVOD this weekend, the family-friendly Hanna-Barbera update is looking to be the next indicator as to where movies are headed next.

(© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

With all of the hype of SCOOB! release, Warner Brothers put their best foot forward in marketing this movie to the youth. One of the ad campaigns features Jalaiah Harmon – the 14-year old creator of the Renegade dance challenge spread across TikTok like wildfire.

Although the craze got big in early 2020, Harmon’s credit for creating the dance went largely unacknowledged until mid-February when social media users rightfully called out her lack of recognition for choreographing the viral sensation. Warner Bros. signed the talented young dancer to her first brand deal; tasking her to create a new dance to promote their newest animated venture.

The resulting #ScoobDance challenge has generated over 3.9 billion views on TikTok; a hotbed for youth engagement. And with the nostalgia that Scooby-Doo brings to older viewers along with the use of a huge marketing tool like TikTok to drive interests from kids, SCOOB! appears to be posed to be a success.

(© 2020 Warner Bros. Pictures)

Much like its marketing campaign, this Scooby-Doo adaptation attempts to be very modernized and of the moment. A young Velma wearing a Ruth Bander Ginsburg Halloween costume is coupled with Tinder jokes, a Simon Cowell cameo, and much more. And on top of its trendy appeal to young audiences, the film’s soundtrack provides enough 90s tunes for millennial parents to bump to. The movie opens with Tupac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love” to establish the Venice Beach locale, Outkast’s “B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)” is featured underneath a fun action sequence, and superhero side character Blue Falcon is introduced with the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls theme music. The use of contemporary references and soundtracks made Dreamwork’s Shrek into a global hit; turning the then-dying animation studio into a cultural mainstay.

Amidst the film’s commitment to popular allusions, the filmmakers carefully include a number of fan service moments for lovers of the original show. After meeting the young “Mystery Incorporated” gang as children, the animators beautifully recreate the classic Scooby-Doo intro with the movie’s updated 3D texture. The animation throughout the entire movie is stellar, as it blends the simplicity of the late 60s/70s animation style of its origin with glossy CGI-rendered lighting and shadows. Moreover, the colorful vibrance of the animation radiates across the entirety of the foreground designs and the background environments nicely. The actual movement of the characters feels reminiscent of the Hanna-Barbera style, with goofy tumbles and hilariously loud effects to evoke laughter among all ages. The scale of the animation and spectacle expands gradually as the movie progresses. Following the Shaggy and Scooby origin story (in the beginning), the movie diverges from the traditional Scooby-Doo plot to focus on the aforementioned Blue Falcon and his dog Dynomutt, Dog Wonder.

For those unfamiliar with Hanna-Barbera’s work, the production studio created a number of iconic characters outside of Scooby and the crew. Outside of the big names like Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Tom & Jerry, Barbera crafted a number of other animated gems throughout the company’s elongated survival as a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Some of their lesser-known characters include The Atom Ant, Sinbad Jr., and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder – a character who’s been primed for a big-screen adaptation amongst the era of superhero cinema. In this movie, Dynomutt’s owner Blue Falcon receives the lion’s share of the attention; as Scooby and Shaggy stumble into Falcon’s world and are thrown into super-heroic antics.

(© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

The more the story unfolds, the more it becomes apparent that the emphasis is exploring the Blue Falcon and Dynomutt story rather than abiding by the traditional Scooby-Doo mystery formula. And while there are some genuine homages sparkled throughout the film, it is clear that the movie’s primary objection is setting up an eventual shared universe of Hanna-Barbera characters. The pairing of Scooby-Doo and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder makes sense considering they aired next to each other and featured a number of crossovers during their runs. Moreover, the human/canine relationship between Dynomutt and Blue Falcon acts as a clever foil to Scooby and Shaggy’s connection.

It is worth noting that this is Warner Animation’s second attempt at an animated crossover universe, following the rise and fall of their LEGO movie franchise. Nevertheless, SCOOB! manages to do a good enough job creating a genuine heartfelt story that the universe building stuff doesn’t get in the way. Aside from the superhero shared universe culture that’s cultivated in recent years, SCOOB! delivers a sweet and sometimes funny tale drenched in a little popular culture tanginess. If you’re a parent looking for something to watch with the kids this weekend, SCOOB! is fun for the whole family.

SCOOB! is now available on PVOD!

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