When I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons, we knew our
Warner Brothers was the best, by leaps and bounds. Their animation was
first rate and their characters - oh man, what a lineup: Bugs Bunny,
Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety, the Road Runner and so many more.
Warner Brothers characters were distinctive and tart, smart alecks with
a real sense of style. The cartoons were well written, vaguely
subversive and funny. What more could you want?
Disney was next. Again, the animation was great and we loved Mickey
Mouse, Donald Duck and all the rest, but they lacked an edge and seemed
like they were aimed more at the younger kids. We watched, but with less
MGM came in a weak third. Sure, the animation was also very good, but
they didn't have much going for them except for Tom and Jerry, and the
cat and mouse team was nothing special.
At the bottom of the barrel was Hanna-Barbera. The animation in
Hanna-Barbera cartoons was awful - cheap and careless. cut-rate crap.
While we appreciated Yogi Bear and the Flintstones as characters, we had
zero respect for William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, the men that taught
the world that you could foist inferior images on kids and still get
As an adult, I would periodically check in on the animation landscape
and it became clear that the old Hanna-Barbera material was great art
compared to the dreck they produced in the '70s. Scooby Doo was perhaps
the most embarrassing thing on Saturday mornings. Four teen-agers and a
talking dog trudging through lame ghost-related mysteries while making
Grade Z jokes, with the worst animation yet - Good Grief!
But the damned thing was a hit with children, who apparently found
comfort in the not-very-scary villains and repetitive plots.
Which brings us to the movie. "Scooby Doo" is, God help us, a faithful
adaptation of the wretched series. The film is live action, with real
(barely) people cavorting about with a computer-generated dog. Fred and
Daphne (Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar) are still good
looking and vapid, Velma (Linda Cardellini) is still smart and
androgynous, and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) remains a stoner.
Many of us thought the film would tweak the series, à la "The Brady
Bunch Movie," but it doesn't happen. The closest the production gets to
self-parody is with a few mild marijuana references that will go
unnoticed by the little ones. And, believe it or not, there is not a
single lesbian joke about Velma. NOTE: After completing this review, I
learned that gags about Velma's orientation and a sexual relationship
between Fred and Daphne were filmed, along with more overt ganja jokes,
but everything was edited out when the powers that be elected to
primarily target a family audience. Don't expect to see the deleted
scenes when the film comes out on DVD, either.
The only positive things I can say about this garish train wreck is that
Matthew Lillard nails the voice and look of Shaggy and that the
relationship between him and Scooby Doo is sweet.
Aside from that, "Scooby Doo" is just as dreadful as one would expect
something from Hanna-Barbera to be.
Copyright © 2002 Edward Johnson-Ott