SCOOB! (capitalisations and exclamation points are necessary) is that reboot, and it’s a good one at that. Beginning with a sweet origin story for Mystery Inc., the film then canters through their success in adulthood. Yet when the team see a need to monetise their success, courtesy of an offer from Simon Cowell (that is not a typo), the slackers Shaggy (Will Forte) and Scooby (Frank Welker) are frozen out due to their lack of marketable talents. While Fred (Zac Efron) is the “tank”, Daphne (Amanda Seyfried) the empath, and Velma (Gina Rodriguez) the smarts, the best friends don’t bring anything to the party.
And so begins the plot, of which there is probably a shade too much. Dick Dastardly (a superbly slimy Jason Isaacs) wants to unite the three skulls of Cerberus in order to obtain the riches of the underworld. But in order to do so, he also needs the last remaining ancestor of Alexander the Great’s dog, Peritas. Chuck in the attempts of the hapless Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) and team to stop him, and there are a lot of moving parts.
Despite the busyness of the plot, the film does invest in its characters well, with the Hanna-Barbera cartoons given a 21st century makeover. Fred’s jock-ishness is played up well, while Velma is spirited and gritty, as opposed to just swottish. Even Daphne, often ever-so-slightly dull, is given an emotionally intelligent side. Updating the characters also allows the film to be self-deprecating about the cliches which defined the Scooby-Doo cartoons. As a result, it’s a genuinely funny film which has plenty for both kids and adults, including the extremely Gif-able scene where Jason Isaacs screams “DICK!” three times.
Played out in an animation style which is occasionally too smooth, the film makes up for it by zooming from one colourful canvas to another. There’s a creepy fairground “somewhere in Romania”, an ancient, hidden society hidden beneath the south pole and a final battle which takes place in a supernatural remodelling of the Acropolis in Athens. But when you unpick the visuals, this is really a film about friendship and what it means to be brave. What more can you really ask for with a kid’s film? The question now remains whether they will call the sequel Scooby-Dooby Two or TWOOB!