With the WGA Strike officially over with a ratified deal and the SAG-AFTRA negotiations seemingly going well, an era of Hollywood filmmaking is ending while another begins, and somehow the 2023 home release of Scooby-Doo film Scooby-Doo! And Krypto, Too! is part of that change.
The “Peak TV” era of Hollywood ended not just with the momentous double-strike and the arrival of AI, but also the invention of a new Studio mechanism, the “tax-holing” of Batgirl (2022). It’s a new, extreme way of writing off a film as a loss on a studio’s books, and its arrival certainly added gasoline to the flames of resentment ahead of the strike authorization votes. Pioneered by David Zazlov’s Warner Brothers-Discovery and adopted quickly by Disney and NBC-Universal, this technique hinges on the idea that once written-off this way, the artistic work can never legally be exhibited again. It’s an oblique process and untested in the courts, so as a new era begins, with recent animated classics like Over the Garden Wall (2014) and Infinity Train (2019) initially disappearing from distribution only to reappear later, Crater (2023) being ripped off Disney+ weeks after release, and finished animated films starring Scooby-Doo and Bugs Bunny getting canceled before their debut, no one really knows what’s going on. Some works like Garden Wall, Infinity Train, and Crater have reappeared on new services or VOD, but the now-finished sequel to Scoob! (2020), Scoob! Holiday Haunt seems to be shelved forever. And here’s where Krypto the Super-Dog enters the picture.
In March, the entire film, whose existence had previously been discovered by data miners, was leaked on 4Chan in what was believed by many to be in retaliation of the many tax-holed Scooby-Doo projects at Warner Brothers-Discovery. Because of this association, it was believed at the time that Scooby-Doo! And Krypto, Too! had also been tax-holed. This was not correct. Earlier this year, it appeared that this film would be a test of what happens when one of the films is leaked online. Would it break the film free from the no-exhibition policy, or are hard drives and illegal links on MEGA and Google Drive the only thing standing in the way of a new wave of lost media? Instead, this film is a bellwether of what’s really coming — an age of confusion.
Who do you call when your heroes need heroes?
When the trailer for the film was announced on Twitter, one of the film’s screenwriters, Tom Sheridan (Batman: The Long Halloween Part One & Two, Masters of the Universe: Revelation), tweeted “Jeepers! It’s almost like this movie was always supposed to be released this fall and the internet just made up a dumb, unsupported story about it being cancelled. But I wouldn’t know anything about that. It’s not like I wrote it.”
In the wake of the strikes, the burst of the streaming bubble, and the retraction of the TV market, it is easily lost that this cycle of speculation, rumor, and unverified reporting on whether a film or TV show will ever be viewable again is the new normal. When the in-store DVDs of Over the Garden Wall and Infinity Train were recalled, it was believed by many that they would be gone forever. Now, Hulu has Over the Garden Wall for the Halloween season and Infinity Train is $1-$2 an episode on VOD. This confusion is a creation of this generation of studio leadership and their comms teams, and what they fail to realize is they are now in danger of creating new Snydercut movements, contingents of fans and filmmakers lobbying for access to works they know exist but are not allowed to purchase. This can be tempting to an untested MBA grad who wants to increase demand for low-interest products, but as the last few years of online harassment have taught us, it is playing with fire, especially for female employees or employees of color. Though I supposed Warner-Brothers Discovery has fewer and fewer of those these days, so maybe they’re not too concerned. This confusion is the legacy of Scooby-Doo! And Krypto, Too!, but how is the film itself? It’s pretty alright!
The current state of Scooby-Doo is akin to Power Rangers or post-Riverdale Archie, kid-focused franchises that are very aware of, and trying to increase their share of, their adult superfans. The marker of success is not “is this a good stand-alone film or book” or “Is this compelling,” but “Is this a good Scooby-Doo movie?” And it is that, though it doesn’t meet the heights of the 2-season cartoon Mystery Incorporated or older animated bangers like Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998).
When the Justice League disappears and the resulting crime wave keeps Lois Lane (voiced by Tara Strong, (Loki, The Fairly OddParents)) too busy to investigate, she asks Jimmy Olsen (voiced by James Arnold Taylor (TMNT, Star Wars: The Clone Wars)) to call his childhood girlfriend Daphne Blake (voiced by Grey DeLisle (Bumblebee, The Simpsons)) for backup. After dodging a string of attacks on Metropolis by members of the Legion of Doom, the meddling kids arrive at the Hall of Justice where they encounter local business owners, government officials, and ex-President Lex Luthor (voiced by Charles Halford (Bad Times at the El Royale, Logan Lucky)) and his dog Rex Ruthor (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) as potential suspects.
It’s an entry in the guest star Scooby-Doo canon, and it’s not short on appearances, though it inconsistently references the classic crossovers with Adam West while making no hay of it. The film stands out for the way it fits the Scooby Gang/Mystery, Inc. into the world of DC, instead of the usual insertion of DC into the world of Scooby-Doo. Here, the meddling kids behave like other powerless kid groups from DC comics, such as The Green Team or The Newsboy Legion. This new point of view is where most of the fun lies, with great worldbuilding jokes about the power of Velma’s glasses on Lois Lane, a very fun metatextual take on modern Lex Luthor, and much better action choreography than is typical of the franchise. The plot doesn’t make a ton of sense the harder you think about it (The Justice League was missing for months, but only four members! Batman couldn’t investigate? Martian Manhunter?), but these films are more about the gags and vibes than plot. It’s a good watch for fans of the Batman/Scooby-Doo crossovers, even if he doesn’t show up in person, and for any kid who wants more Krypto after last year’s DC League of Super-Pets (2022).
Released on VOD and on DVD as a Walmart exclusive, the DVD comes with three previously released episodes of 2019’s guest-star-driven Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
- The Scooby of a Thousand Faces! Guest Starring Wonder Woman — 1/5 stars
- Someone accuses Wonder Woman of anti-male sexism and uses it as a teaching moment. One of the most perplexing things I’ve ever seen.
- What a Night for the Dark Night! Guest Starring Batman — 3/5 stars
- Great Alfred stuff here and has the same meta fun as Kypto, Too! with Bruce Wayne’s secret identity.
- One Minute Mysteries! Guest Starring the Flash — 5/5 stars
- Maybe the single best episode of Scooby-Doo ever made. Definitely the best this author’s seen, and he’s seen most. A masterclass in subverting expectations of a genre, even in a 22-minute children’s TV show. Seek it out on Max if you have that or on this and other DVD releases.
In the end, it’s sobering that this children’s programmer will now be remembered for the controversies surrounding it and not the labor of its artists, but it is very good at being what it’s trying to be, and that’s really all we can ask of it. If you’re into Scooby-Doo, or maybe strange anecdotes in Hollywood history, it’s worth a pickup.
Available on DVD as a Walmart exclusive September 26th, 2023.
Available on VOD September 26th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Warner Bros. Pictures Scooby-Doo! & Krypto, Too! webpage.
Final Score: 4 out of 5.
This piece was written during the SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.