A woman left alone with her new step-children finds her world turned upside-down.
After their mother (Alicia Silverstone) dies, Aidan and Mia Hall (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) are sent to live with their father, Richard (Richard Armitage), and his fiancé, Grace (Riley Keough). Richard met Grace while researching a book on cults, because she was the only survivor of her father’s death cult’s mass suicide. Richard announces that the children will spend the holidays with Grace and him at the family’s isolated cabin. The kids refuse to bond with Grace, something that becomes even more stressful when Richard gets called back in to work. One morning, Grace awakens to find that someone, or something, has taken all of the belongings out of the house and destroyed the generators. Even more strange occurrences start to occur, leading Grace to question her reality, or what’s left of it, as she tries to survive with the children.
This movie is a great example of how you can make horror without needing to have a lot of jump-scares or a ton of disturbing images. While we get some flashbacks to some cult activity, the majority of the tension in the film is just Grace’s slow descent into paranoia. Honestly, Riley Keough makes this movie work. The two kids, played by Martell and McHugh, are both great, but the focus of the story is on Grace, who is dealing with both her past and her future. Since her father led a psychotic religious cult, she naturally has a fear of the Catholic iconography that decorates the cabin, and Keough manages to add a level of subtle intensity to her reactions that really sells her growing madness. If you enjoyed the Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala film Goodnight Mommy, you’ll like this.
Throughout much of the movie, the terror comes from the uncertainty of what is happening to Grace and the kids and how much of it is just within Grace’s mind. The fact that the audience doesn’t really know either, and that some of our own experiences may have felt just as ambiguous in the past, really starts to make the events hit home hard. The atmosphere of the cabin is as unsettling as it gets, constantly casting an otherworldly pallor over everything that the characters are experiencing. So many of the shots really drive home the isolation and the dread that Grace is dealing with that you can empathize with her desperation.
I will say that the biggest problem with the film is the actual plot. Since so much of the movie is ambiguous, it really does take a hit when it tries to explain what’s happening, mostly because the explanation doesn’t really make sense. The ending is powerful, though, and will leave you feeling a lot of emotions, but I’d hate to tell you which ones.
Overall, honestly, I really liked the film. If you like movies that are driven primarily by a single great performance, or atmospheric horror, check it out on Hulu.
Rick screws an entire world. Yes, in that way, too.
The Smith/Sanchez family are going camping, much to the delight of Jerry (Chris Parnell). Summer (Spencer Grammer) and Morty (Justin Roiland) are upset because they’re missing out on drugs and video games, and it’s revealed that Rick (Roiland) only came because he’s ghosting a former lover. Summer steals his phone and it’s revealed that Rick’s ex says she’s pregnant. Beth (Sarah Chalke) forces Rick to go raise his kids, which are revealed to be the children of Gaia (Kari Wahlgren), a sentient planet. Rick denies that the kids are his, but when they come out looking kind of like him, Beth demands that he raise them. Rick and Beth work together to build a society, literally engineering it, for the clay people.
Meanwhile, Jerry tries to convince the kids to go camping on Gaia, but Summer tells him off because he doesn’t want to camp, he just wants to feel useful. Jerry wanders off, only to be sucked into Rick’s and Beth’s new city, where he is summarily kicked back out with the other “unproductives.” After showing the rejected clay people how to camp, he becomes their leader. The kids discover they have NO survival skills and almost die, until they find a crashed spaceship. They believe that the spaceship’s panels resemble a video game controller and Summer starts inhaling a drug which she believes is the collected knowledge of the dead aliens. The pair vow to show their parents what “video games and partying” can do.
After Rick and Beth manage to get the clay civilization to space travel, it’s revealed that the kids are not Rick’s, but instead the offspring of a Zeus (an alien species, apparently) named Reggie. Reggie ends up giving Jerry and the unproductives divine power to revolt against Rick’s city, so Beth and Jerry fight while Rick goes to fight Reggie in space. Rick is about to lose the fight when Morty and Summer activate their ship, revealing that they were completely wrong about everything they thought they knew about it, and crash it into Reggie’s brain. Reggie’s giant corpse drops onto the city, which leads Gaia to erupt and kill most of her offspring. Jerry saves Beth from dying and Rick and the family head home.
This episode seemed a lot like those clay creatures that formed the basis for the plot: Not quite done baking. Parts of it are amazing, other parts of it just feel like filler that no one could figure out a joke for. While they do a great job with the A-B-C-Plot interplay that I respect this show for, there’s not much to say when the C-plot (Morty and Summer) is really just a set-up for a deus ex machina later.
The A-Plot about Rick and Beth starting a civilization around Rick’s presumed offspring is definitely the best part of the episode and, honestly, I wish they’d spent a little more time on it. Some of the lines about how they’re trying to manipulate society through emotional engineering, like diverting teachers into playwrights by just spanking them more, are freaking hilarious. Although, as a lawyer, I should object to the line about bypassing the ethics tube, I have also been a lawyer long enough to know that this joke has been earned by other members of my profession. I also thought the “pachinko” style sorting to determine if the people believe in flat Earth, round Earth, or Middle Earth to be random and amazing.
The B-Plot of Jerry being the leader of the unproductives is a joke that practically writes itself. In the Season 3 premiere, Jerry is only successful in the new alien-dominated Earth because it was dependent upon bureaucracy so redundant that Jerry doesn’t even know what he does. He even gets into the situation because he tries to skip a rock and hits himself. Then, once he has power, he refuses to allow anything to evolve because any progress is a threat to him. It’s a reminder that while Jerry is mostly a character that exists to be humiliated by Rick, he would be just as much of a dick as Rick is if he had any of Rick’s intellect or drive. I particularly love that, as Rick points out, when Jerry gets a literal staff of divine power, he only conjures up plagues from The Ten Commandments. He doesn’t even try to create clothing for himself, he just rips off the Bible… or, let’s be honest, he rips off a movie. Rick would probably have used it to power a bong capable of smoking a planet.
Summer’s and Morty’s plot is really only funny in the sense that they’re so dumb that they think partying and video games can help them pilot a spaceship. But, it’s like Abraham Maslow said: “[I]t is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” I do also like the fact that they literally ex a deus with a machina, which is f*cking funny. Aside from that, though, the time spent on their adventure feels like a waste.
The highlight of the episode, though, has to be Rick literally challenging a god to a fistfight. Rather than do a ton of elaborate special effects or smite-and-countersmite, it just turns into an old-school slugfest, which is an amazing subversion. While it feels a little similar to the same thing from “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” I think this one works better because Rick is also defending his kids from a bad father, meaning Rick is actually in the right, for once.
Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst. I will say that I laughed my butt off at “Planets Only.”
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
This season is not making these easy. Okay, so, why would Rick agree to go and raise these kids in the first place? Yeah, sure, Beth was going to yell at him, but what else is new? However, I think he realized that, as the show has gone on, he actually does care about what Beth thinks of him and knows that going to Gaia will give him a chance to bond with her. The evidence for this, aside from him being uncharacteristically complimentary of her during this endeavor, is that when the Zeus shows up, Rick doesn’t just take it as an opportunity to bail. Instead, Rick asserts that at least he stepped up and therefore all of the kids, and their civilization, is part of his family. This means Rick is trying to actually be a good dad for once, something that Beth will appreciate. It’s part of the payoff from “The ABCs of Beth,” where Rick tells Beth “[m]aybe you matter so little that I like you. Or maybe it makes you matter. Maybe I love you….” Rick isn’t quite as cold and dead inside towards Beth as he wants people to think, so spending an episode to make her feel happy isn’t a stretch. That’s probably why, when she’s mad at him at the end of the episode, Rick quickly lashes out by throwing her parenting under the bus.
Overall, I give this episode a
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in a week.
I take a look at the new series by the co-creator of Rick and Morty.
Planet Shlorp was a perfect utopia until the asteroid hit. 100 adults and their “replicants,” which is to say children, escaped into space along with a pupa (Liam Cunningham), which will one day destroy the planet they land on and create a new planet Shlorp. Korvo (Justin Roiland) and Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and their children Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack) land on Earth and, after living there for a year, are still having trouble adjusting to Earth life. Also, Yumyulack keeps shrinking people and forcing them to live in a small prison run by the Duke (Alfred Molina).
I can’t help but look at this show as an example of what Rick and Morty would be without Dan Harmon. The answer appears to be “still hilarious, but without structure.” This show is a lot more freeform, similar to the episodes of Rick and Morty that Roiland performed on weed, but that doesn’t change the fact that the show’s off-the-wall nature allows it to produce a lot of unique situations. Since the show feels a little less predictable and formulaic, the jokes tend to be harder to guess and that tends to make more of them land. The animation style is also similar to Rick or Morty, but with less random genital duplication.
The show tends to have an a-plot involving Korvo and Terry as an “odd couple,” a b-plot with Yumyulack and Jesse learning about being children on Earth, and a c-plot involving the shrunken prison. However, it doesn’t have the amazing a-plot and b-plot interplay that Rick and Morty so often excelled in. Instead, we usually see the plots just shifting from one to another and then back, pretty much picking back up where they left off the last time it was featured. Still, the subplots are usually funny and the loose continuity makes the c-plot in the shrunken prison cumulative, which allows for some more serious character development.
Overall, the show’s pretty solid. It doesn’t have, so far, any of the sort of existential commentary and insight of Rick and Morty, but it’s funny and that’s really all you need sometimes.
SUMMARY (They’re basically the same, differences go 1993)
Harry Smith [Delamo] (Eric Kohner / Alexi Stavrou) is a strip [cabaret] club owner with his wife, Olivia (Melanie Rose / Rachel Alig). Olivia is obsessed with UFOs to the point that she has had no interest in sex with Harry for 4  months. A new girl, named Thousand Ways (Michaela Stoicov / Roberta Sparta) arrives at the club and flirts with Harry. Harry’s best friend (Frank Fowler / Ben Gillman) comes up with a strategy to help Harry have an affair with Thousand Ways and fakes an alien abduction. After a night with Thousand Ways, Harry returns and tells his wife the truth, but Olivia believes that the aliens just erased his memory. A few nights later, he plans another “abduction,” only for him to actually be abducted by aliens. The aliens (Uncredited / Albert Minero, Jr. and Josiah Black) return Harry to Earth and give him a special ability – Whenever he looks at a woman, he can make her orgasm. Eventually, after some hijinks, Olivia gets rid of Harry’s ability by satisfying him sexually [using voodoo to attack the aliens] and they have some kind of happily ever after.
So, this movie was requested because the reader had remembered the movie from the classic USA Up All Night series hosted by Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Shear. The show’s premise was that the comedians would host two films, starting late at night on Saturday, with comedy skits or commentary during the commercial breaks and then there would be a third movie or a repeat of the first film, but that was usually unhosted. If, like me, you liked Duckman in the 90s (and like me had parents that didn’t notice that you were watching Duckman), then you might remember this as the show that came on after it. The series ran from 1989 to 1998 and the late-night movies continued until 2002. During the show’s run, it featured films ranging from legitimately great movies like the original Halloween to B-movies like the Puppet Master films to heavily-edited soft-core pornography like The Bikini Carwash Company. The 1993 version of this movie is definitely one of the latter. I actually didn’t catch this movie during the USA Up All Night run, due to being 10 the last time it aired, but I did see it on Cinemax years later. It was truly made for the “13 and can’t find actual porn” audience.
The 1993 version of the movie starts off with nudity. It’s literally just a stripper dancing and collecting money, and that’s actually what a large percentage of this movie is. Even in scenes where characters are being developed or the plot is supposed to be progressing, the camera is usually focused on a scantily clad or nude female. The movie is, I guess, supposed to be a sex comedy, but I don’t think anything in the movie was ever actually funny. The acting in it ranges from bad to terrible and the script isn’t better. It mostly stands out because the film feels like two completely different ideas stitched together poorly, that of a guy faking abductions for an affair and of a guy who can make a woman orgasm by looking. Also, they clearly pad the script with scenes about Harry’s and Olivia’s neighbor having an affair with a detective and throw in a weird element of having the aliens drop Harry off wearing a Roman uniform. It’s like the people who made the movie just wanted to sell boobs and butts, which means this movie probably made a fortune.
The 2015 version, on the other hand, explicitly starts the film by saying that they aren’t going to be rated R. However, if a viewer were to think that this means that this movie might actually be decent on its own merit, that’s a mistake. The acting in this version is better, in the sense that it’s not awful, but much of the script is either exactly the same or somehow worse. A big thing is that they expand the roles of the aliens in the movie. Whereas in the 1993 version, the aliens just appear for a moment then release Harry, in this one they are actively monitoring Harry and they actually are on a mission to fix his sex life, revealed to be at the request of Thousand Ways, who is an alien hosting a reality show in this version. The aliens start to provide the “comic relief” and they are anything but funny. They talk in broken English which is only funny if you have some sort of brain injury, and say things like “how you know which one is ‘hot’?” about the women in Harry’s life. Also, they end up leaving when Olivia uses Voodoo on them, something that HAS NOT BEEN IN THE MOVIE UNTIL NOW OR EVEN MENTIONED. But at least the deus ex machina means this movie comes in at a mercifully short 69 (heh) minutes.
I’m absolutely perplexed at why this movie was remade. Moreover, why would you remake a movie whose primarily plots are sex-based without any nudity and with lessened sexuality? They not only remove the nudity, but the women orgasming (a major part of the movie) is now portrayed by women singing a high soprano note. Even some of the lines are just altered slightly to be less offensive, like how Thousand Ways goes from meaning “a thousand ways to have an affair” to “a thousand ways to have a man,” and having her line go from the moderately clever entendre “I love screwing my bosses” to the awkward “I love having sex with my bosses.” However, both versions have an awkward moment where Harry is worried about looking at an underage girl with his powers, before being assured that she’s over 18, and in both I feel dirty from having watched the exchange.
I will be frank, neither of these movies is good, but the first one never pretends to be anything other than an excuse to show off some very sexy ladies in little to no clothing. The bad acting, stupid scripts, and the fact that most of the conversations of the film are played over stripping is the film just delivering on its promise to the audience. The remake tried to be a film and completely failed. If you’re really wanting to relive the age before internet porn, they’re both on Amazon.
Leela and Fry lead a devolution revolution… featuring DEVO.
The Planet Express crew are hired for their 100th delivery to the wealthy Mrs. Astor (Tress MacNeille). She invites the crew to a fundraiser for the United Mutant Scholarship Fund, which is revealed to be a way to keep mutants segregated from humanity. When tempers start to flare, Fry (Billy West) accidentally tells the guests that Leela (Katey Sagal) is a mutant living illegally on the surface. In response, she is banished to the sewers. Fry tries to appeal to the city, but accidentally gets the rest of the crew, minus Bender (John DiMaggio), who is throwing an epic party, banished as punishment for harboring Leela. Fry tries to empathize with Leela’s plight now that he’s been in the sewers, but Leela tells him the only way he could understand would be to mutate himself in the toxic lake. He avoids jumping in, angering Leela further.
While wandering the sewers, the crew finds the wreckage of the Land Titanic, a bus that was designed to be like the Titanic and which sank under the surface. On board, they find a Quantum Force Gemerald which shoots out powerful energy blasts, and a passenger manifest. Fry, unable to sleep due to his fight with Leela, walks into the toxic lake and mutates horribly. Sick of living beneath the ground, Leela organizes a revolt. Fry and Bender bend the West Side Pipeway so that all of the sewage in New New York goes back to the streets. Mayor Poopenmeyer stores all of the sewage in Madison Cube Garden. When Leela leads the mutants to the surface to demand equal rights, Mrs. Astor, a blatant anti-mutant racist, has her butler attack the mob by sending a wave of the sewage. Fry appears and uses the Quantum Gemerald to save the crowd. He then reveals that the passenger list to the Land Titanic included Mrs. Astor’s husband Mr. Astor (Maurice LaMarche) as well as mutants. Leela’s Grandmother appears, revealing that she was on the Land Titanic and that Mr. Astor gave her his seat on the “life car.” This leads Mrs. Astor to ask the mayor to let mutants onto the surface, to which he agrees. Fry and Leela kiss, but Fry suddenly is sheds his mutated outer layer, revealing it to be a mutated Mr. Astor. The crew head home to party and celebrate their hundredth delivery.
This is one of the rare Futurama episodes that actually has long-lasting ramifications on the series. After this episode, mutants stop being restricted to the sewers, so even background shots start featuring them. Honestly, I can’t think of any other episode that so easily divides the series by the events, and that’s including the films. Given that we saw the mutants first in the beginning of Season 2, it’s strange to think that we made it through 3 and a half seasons without seeing any of the non-Turanga mutants on the surface. I guess it made sense to make such a big change on what they consider the 100th episode.
This is also one of the many episodes that tackles a social topic, although in this case the metaphor is so broad that it could easily be applied to any number of groups that have been oppressed in the past. The episode references the Million Man March, and the subsequent Million Woman March, with the Million Mutant March, but also references the 1969 Stonewall Riots with the title, as newspapers covered Stonewall with the image of a sign that said “Homosexuals are revolting.” Basically, just a reminder that segregation is segregation and oppression is oppression, no matter what the reason or the group. If we start drawing lines based on race, sexuality, or number of eyes, we are inherently reducing the humanity of someone.
The only thing I really don’t like about this episode is that the ending is mostly a bunch of quick coincidences that wrap everything up, rather than someone actually realizing how horrible it is for mutants to be oppressed. Fry ends up being perfectly normal again, Leela’s back on the surface, and all it really took was one rich woman asking the Mayor. They try to sort-of apologize for it by having Zoidberg sarcastically say “Hooray, a happy ending for the rich people,” but it’s still kind of depressing that equality is won by making a single wealthy woman feel empathy, rather than any societal recognition.
Overall, though, still a good episode. Also, I love that Devo are presented as mutants.
It’s this call and response:
Dwayne the giant head mutant: “Are we not men now?”
Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo: “I’m forty percent potato, but close enough!”
I love this because it’s like four layers of humor. “Are we not men now?” is part of the first Devo album title, Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!. That album’s title comes from Devo’s song “Jocko Homo,” which takes its name from an anti-evolution work in the 1920s and focuses on the idea that humanity is de-evolving, the inspiration for the band’s name. However, “Are we not men?” is taken from the movie Island of Lost Souls, which is an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. “Are we not men?” is the call and response that the anthropomorphic animals of the island chant when they say what distinguishes them from animals, before ultimately devolving back into them. So, this is drawing a parallel between the concept of man as just an elevated animal and the idea that mutants are just the natural step of humanity after it de-evolves. The next part, “I’m forty percent potato” is just a reference to the fact that Devo’s fans are called “spuds.”
The reboot of the beloved ‘80s classic comes to an epic end.
SUMMARY (Spoilers for Seasons 1-4)
On the magical planet Eternia, Adora (Aimee Carrero) was raised to lead the Horde, an evil army under the rule of Hordak (Keston John). After finding a magic sword that transformed her into the powerful warrior She-Ra, Adora realized that the Horde were the bad guys, and joined the Princess Rebellion. Along with her new friends Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara) and Bow (Marcus Scribner), as well as her horse Swift Wind (Adam Ray), she helped form an army of the most powerful princesses on the planet: Chlorokinetic Perfuma (Genesis Rodriguez), Hydrokinetic Mermista (Vella Lovell), Cryokinetic Frosta (Merit Leighton), Centrifugalkinetic Spinnerella (Noelle Stevenson), Net…tossingkinetic Netossa (Krystal Joy Brown), and later the technowizard Entrapta (Christine Woods) and the adorable Scorpia (Lauren Ash). Adora’s former best friend Catra (AJ Michalka) commands the Horde now, trying to take over Eternia. Unfortunately, it is revealed that Hordak is just the minion of a much greater threat, Horde Prime, and he has now found Eternia just as Adora loses her ability to turn into She-Ra. It’s up to the princesses to stop a galaxy-wide army of destruction.
So, as I said when I reviewed the first season, I wasn’t completely won over by this show. I particularly thought that the first season was too formulaic and repetitive and had way too many dei ex machina to keep me interested. It didn’t help that the only character I really felt had a compelling personality was Entrapta, because she was an amoral character who wasn’t portrayed as outright villainous. While I appreciated that the show was broad in terms of representation, I didn’t think a ton of it otherwise. I thought it got a little better over the next few seasons, but I still wouldn’t put it in the category of great animated kids shows like Avatar or Gravity Falls. However, I will give it this, when it finally came down to the line, the show stepped up.
Season five of this show was pretty intense and took full advantage of all of the elaborate world-building and character development that had previously been put into the show. The fact that the show had already permanently killed off a major character and the fact that the series was coming to an end meant that, even though you probably know that the good guys are going to win, you actually didn’t know who would make it to the end. The season also reveals the reason why Horde Prime is more horrifying than his minion, because Horde Prime commands a slavish devotion from all of his followers, most of whom are clones of him. He is spoken of as if he is a god and clearly thinks of himself as being close to one. That makes it obvious that the heroes are going to end up having to take extreme measures to beat him. It gives the show a darker edge that really forces the characters to take stock of the reality that they’re in a war that may kill everyone they love.
It helps that the season does play up the Catra/Adora relationship more than ever before. Since they have the most interesting dynamic in the show, having been best friends who now fight as mortal enemies, this really drives forward both their characters and also those around them. It also helps that the B-plotline of the resistance against Horde Prime’s assault on the planet is also very compelling, mostly because Horde Prime is not above tactics that Hordak probably would have thought too repulsive.
Overall, I don’t know if the show really deserves to be up there in the annals of great kids animation, but I will say that the show consistently improved, and that’s more than almost any other series can claim. I cheered loudly during one of the ending scenes, something many shows can’t excite me enough to merit. Also, it pissed off a lot of people who deserve to be pissed off, and that always makes me smile.
The first animated feature film in the franchise is not quite what I hoped, but it’s not a tragedy.
Norville “Shaggy” Rogers (Will Forte/Iain Armitage) adopts a talking dog which he names Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) as a kid. The two become best friends, and one Halloween night they end up meeting three other children: Fred Jones (Zac Efron/Pierce Gagnon), Daphne Blake (Amanda Seyfried/Mckenna Grace), and Velma Dinkley (Gina Rodriguez/Ariana Greenblatt). The five end up thwarting a fake haunting in a local house and become a team of supernatural sleuths known as “Mystery Incorporated.”
Ten years later, the group is trying to become an actual business, but Scooby and Shaggy are accused of being dead weight. They go and sulk by bowling, where they are attacked by robots. The team ends up being caught in a scheme by supervillain Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs), resulting in them teaming up with the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), his canine robot companion Dynomutt (Ken Jeong), and his pilot Dee Dee Sykes (Kiersey Clemons). It turns out this time the stakes might be the fate of the world.
Alright, I’m going to split this review so that I don’t drive people nuts. The first half is going to be me talking about this as a reviewer, the second as a Scooby-Doo fanboy.
As a reviewer, this movie has some good points. The animation style really does seem like they just made a CGI model of the original cartoon designs with some era-appropriate updates. There are a number of surprisingly solid jokes for a film like this, including some decent slapstick gags. The film covers both the origin of the team as well as their “greatest challenge,” but it never really feels rushed. I was surprised how much happened in only 90 minutes. The addition of Blue Falcon (or at least his son Brian who takes over for him) allows the movie to put in some creative action sequences, and Jason Isaacs’s interpretation of Dick Dastardly manages to be deeper than the character has ever really been before and yet still a stereotypical villain. Also, there are a ton of cameos from past cartoons and the traditional goofy sound effects that will probably give you some childhood nostalgia.
On the negative side, the voice acting is probably going to be divisive. I didn’t think it was really that great, because each of the voices felt more like the actor than the character. The plot is kind of ridiculous even for a kids’ movie, with me frequently going “wait, really?” Fortunately, it’s not too heavy on plot, trying instead for some deeper characterizations between the action and comedy. Unfortunately, it tries them with Blue Falcon and Dick Dastardly more than it does with the actual Scooby team and, honestly, Blue Falcon wasn’t that interesting. He’s the fame-seeking son of the original Blue Falcon, which could be worthwhile as the focus of a movie, but he’s only an ancillary character so most of the scenes feel weird and unnecessary.
Overall, it’s not a bad movie, but it doesn’t ever really come close to the level of Pixar or Into the Spider-Verse or other modern great animated films. If you’ve got kids, it’s probably worth it when this movie comes out on Redbox or rental, but don’t spend the 20 bucks to get it now.
Okay, so, now I’m going to address this as a long-time Scooby-Doo fan. I want you to understand that I have gone out of my way to watch almost every Scooby-Doo property and I am only mildly ashamed of that. Hell, I reviewed Daphne and Velma on here, because I’m that dedicated. So, as a fan, I say the following: It’s amazing that this movie can be so close to getting it right and yet not really get it at all. The film contains a decent reproduction of the original Scooby-Doo, Where are You? theme sequence that I think kind of represents the film as a whole: It’s got the elements, but not the spirit. It’s like the people who made this read all of the Wikipedia entries on Scooby-Doo and the rest of the Hanna-Barbera family, but didn’t watch them.
Part of why I feel that way is the sort of “sampler platter” this film presents of the Scooby-Doo franchise. We start off with the gang as kids, like A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, then we see the Scooby-Doo, Where are You? Opening play out, then we see the gang meeting up with Simon Cowell, as they would in The New Scooby-Doo Movies, then we see them dealing with robots and superheroes rather than supernatural entities (although we end up seeing an actual supernatural element in the film), which is reminiscent of the later Scooby-Doo shows. This should have given me a nostalgia overload, but instead it ended up feeling like a jumbled mess, because while Scooby-Doo and the gang may have done things as diverse as rebooting the universe by defeating an eldritch abomination, helping KISS stop a witch, participating in the Laugh-a-lympics, or helping Batman fight crime, they never did them all at once. This film starts out with the traditional “meddling kids” model, but then abandons it when the plot actually begins, instead becoming more of an action comedy focused on Dick Dastardly and the Blue Falcon. That means that the characters we see in the first act should be completely out of their element throughout the rest of the movie, but instead they pretty much immediately just shift into the new paradigm without any issues. It just feels off.
It also doesn’t help that none of the characters really feel right either, from the characterizations and design updates to the voice actors. I love Will Forte, but he doesn’t really try to deliver Shaggy’s lines like he was Shaggy. Instead, it just comes off as Will Forte trying to act like himself in the 60s. He just doesn’t come off as a “scared hippie.” The same is true for most of the voice actors, aside from Amanda Seyfried and, of course, Frank Welker. It’s weird for me that they decided they had to have four celebrity voices when there already are already four semi-famous actors who voice the current version on television: Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, Matthew Lillard, and Frank Welker, who has been voicing Fred for 50 freaking years. None of them really feel like the characters they’re supposed to be, from the voices to the appearances to the things they say and do. That extends to most of the other characters as well, with the usually goofy Dynomutt being a snarky jerk, the usually Batman-esque Blue Falcon being kind of an idiot, Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan) speaking normally and being sarcastic, and Dick Dastardly being an actual genius supervillain as opposed to just a comic badguy. It’s like they’re all drawings of the characters made by someone who had the originals described to them, rather than seeing the real thing.
Honestly, I still enjoyed parts of the movie, and I could overlook almost any of this if it were just a better film in general, but it still took it down a bit for me.