If you’re one of those folks who prefers physical media, get excited because one of the first 2020-slated films to hit Premium VOD is finally hitting shelves: WB Pictures’s Scoob!. In this soft-reboot of the beloved series, audiences are invited to learn the origin of the Mystery Inc. Gang before jumping off into an adventure that’s less puzzling and more action-adventure, pulling in some familiar Hanna-Barbera faces along the way. This is perhaps the greatest joy for H-B fans as there are easter eggs around every corner! If you’re in the mood for some wholesome family fun, join Scooby and the gang on an adventure that demonstrates how true friendship transcends lifetimes.
In this partial origin story, young Shaggy (Iain Armitage) is socially awkward and without friends until he meets a similarly lonely pup (Frank Welker) without a name. This pup, soon named Scooby-Dooby-Doo, comes to live with Shaggy, beginning the famously inseparable bond the two are known to possess. On one fateful Halloween, Shaggy and Scoob are helped by fellow trick-or-treaters Fred, Velma, and Daphne (Pierce Gagnon, Ariana Greenblatt, and Mckenna Grace) to get their candy back from a haunted house. This night would see the intrepid gang solve their first of many mysteries, but their real test would come years later when a potential investor, Simon Cowell (himself), informs them that he can’t help them unless Shaggy and Scoob are removed from the business. Heartbroken, the two go to drown their sorrows in bowling only to find themselves the targets of vicious robots known as The Rottens. Who sent them and why is only the start of an adventure that will send the Mystery Inc. Gang unraveling the mysteries of time and exploring the greater Hanna-Barbera Universe.
What follows will include spoilers, so jump down past the image of Dick Dasterdly nose-to-nose with Scooby-Doo to learn about the bonus features if you don’t want to learn any more details. If you want to get a sense of the film without spoilers, head over to the original PVOD review.
Scoob! is one of those films I thought would be enjoyable and ended up having way more fun with, largely because of the references and nods to other H-B properties. This is, by the way, not the only reason I enjoyed the film, but this is where we’re starting because it goes to show how much director Tony Cervone and the team of writers — four for the screenplay, three for the story — understand and respect the legacy of the various Scooby incarnations and the universe they exist in. For instance, the bowling alley adult Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scoob go to, it’s named for Iwao Takoamoto, an animator whose dog served as the inspiration for Scooby’s character design. Though she goes unnamed in the film, the credits list the employee who dresses down adult Fred, Velma, and Daphne (Zac Efron, Gina Rodriguez, and Amanda Seyfried) as Judy Takamoto (voiced by Maya Erskine). This reference, like the one honoring original Shaggy voice Casey Kasem are the hidden-in-plain-sight references, whereas the ones for Hong Kung Phooey, Johnny Quest, Grape Ape, and other H-B characters are far more obvious. These little nods indicate just how well the creators of the film understand the deep well of history from which these characters come. If nothing else tips you off, the recreated original montage opening post-Halloween adventure not only shows the kids grow up, but harkens back to that original era of episodes, done up with a modern sheen.
H-B references are not enough, however, and it’s the story that seems to ruffle the most feathers. Personally, I find that any Scooby story works best when the team is together versus apart. That’s perhaps why I prefer the 2004 live-action Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed over the 2002 live-action Scooby-Doo: The Movie because the team remains whole, even if as underdogs. Both films, though, focused on solving a mystery whereas Scoob! is more action-adventure romp. There’s no need to figure out who’s after Shaggy and Scoob once Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) and Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) arrive because they know. From a writing standpoint, this enables the narrative to put more emphasis on the importance of friendship (the core element of the story so noted by the opening scenes) rather than on solving a mystery. Even separated, the team is still working as one to reunite and stop Dick Dasterdly (Jason Isaacs), the known villain of the story. One can’t ponder the ramifications of shifting the narrative from action-adventure into a mystery because, in so doing, the narrative itself wouldn’t work. Yes, Dasterdly is a bad guy trying to use Scoob to open a fabled vault filled with riches, but he’s also trying to reunite himself with Muttley (Billy West and Don Messick), whom he lost while in search for the vault. As a total narrative, without knowing who is behind the hunt, the focus on the value of friendship is, itself, devalued and less effective. But since the story ends in a happy resolution, their next adventure is capable of being one far more in line with the tradition of old, perhaps picking up some familiar faces along the way.
With any amount of special features, their worth is dependent on the interest of the accessor. What WB offers here is interesting, if not lacking in one specific area that seems so obvious it’s frustrating not to have it included. First, what do you get: bloopers, deleted scenes, a drawing tutorial, and a cast/crew behind the scenes look at the film. Oh, and PUPPIES!! Don’t get too excited on that last one as it’s literally just Efron, Rodriquez, Seyfried, and Forte playing with puppies for about a minute. Getting longer from there is the blooper reel, showing the cast messing up their lines. It’s noticeable that some members of the cast are in a more traditional booth environment, while others (Rodriquez and Ken Jeong) appear in a more colorful area. The difference in staging, and similarity in outfits for Rodriquez in the “Puppies” featurette suggests that some of the bloopers are staged or it’s just a coincidence. Some of them are still pretty funny, like watching Forte get silly when he flubs a line or Tracy Morgan tripping on his tongue as Captain Caveman. The interesting insights into the production and character bios come from the six-minute “New Friends, Newer Villains” featurette. Even brief, you get the sense of what it means for the actors to play these roles and their approach to some of the characters. Like Isaac pointing out that perhaps Dasterdly isn’t as much as a villain as he’d like you to think. Interested in art and Scooby history? “How To Draw Scooby Doo” should be your next stop. In this 10-minute tutorial, Tony Cervone will not only walk you through the steps to draw Scooby properly, but drop a variety of Scooby-related fact-snacks about the background of the character, Hanna-Barbera, and more in the process. The last bits are 10 deleted scenes involving cut portions and alternate takes, each presented with temporary voices for the characters and incomplete animatics or motion storyboards. The alternate version of how Shaggy and Scooby meet is cute, but the theatrical edition is peppier and gets the action going quickly. On the other hand, an alternate scene cut from the final battle titled “Night Hounds” would’ve been really fun to see and makes the scene with Fred charging at Cerberus less ridiculous. The one glaring absence is an alternate version of the film that would pop-up or point out the various references hidden throughout Scoob!. Whether a noob or old hat, tracking down all the things acknowledging the history of these characters, their creators, and connections would be a fascinating way to watch the film.
Do keep in mind that there are differences between which bonus features are available on which version of the release you pick up. While everything mentioned above comes with the 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray, and digital only options, the DVD only includes the “How To Draw Scooby Do” bonus feature.
SCOOB! 4K UHD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Special Features
- Bloopers (3:58)
- How To Draw Scooby Doo (10:17)
- New Friends, Newer Villains (6:22)
- Puppies!! (1:03)
- Ten (10) Deleted Scenes (20:33)
SCOOB! DVD Special Features
- How To Draw Scooby Doo (10:17)
- Available on VOD and digital May 15th, 2020.
- Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD July 21st, 2020.