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Directed by Raja Gosnell.
Written by James Gunn. 
Starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini and Matthew Lillard.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  6/27/02 


Yes, I saw it.  In fact, I just HAD to see it, because I had to know:

Is “Scooby-Doo” the worst movie of the year?

See, many of you remember that my hopes were high when I walked into the theater to see “Enough” with Jennifer Lopez last month; I was wholeheartedly convinced that it was going to take the cake as 2002’s worst film.  But then, I saw it and it really wasn’t bad, or maybe, it was better than it ever deserved to be.

But, I felt good about my chances with “Scooby-Doo”, because all of the “ingredients” were there.

--Freddie Prinze, Jr.

His last three films?  “Summer Catch”, “Head Over Heels”, “Boys and Girls.”  In fact, his only good film is still “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, and that’s only because it had a great script; it has nothing to do with his performance.

--a digital lead character

When I heard that the filmmakers decided against any kind of puppet or animatronic Scooby for the film—instead, they digitally inserted him into all of his scenes—I was sure that this would be the nail in the coffin.  A CG Scooby?  Big trouble!

--a popular cartoon from my childhood

Hollywood is continuously messing with the past when it is usually better off leaving it alone.  I was sure that, by fooling with a cartoon that most kids loved, Hollywood was barking up the wrong tree by trying to turn “Scooby-Doo” into box office gold.

The ingredients were in place...but, in its opening weekend two weeks ago, it made $56 million at the box office, shattering the June box office records and my dreams that this movie would really bomb.  A sequel was announced for the series, “Undercover Brother” fell out of the top ten...and, I saw the movie this week, and it once again rises above my abysmal expectations.

Barely.  The plot involves some nonsense about a mysterious theme park owner (Rowan Atkinson, or “Bean” as he is more popularly known) that gets college kids to come stay at his Spooky Island resort and then brainwashes them to speak new-age jive and other sorts of nonsense.  It’s up to the gang—Fred (Prinze, Jr.), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Daphne (Gellar), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby—to figure out what the hell is going wrong.

Most of this movie really does suck.  Prinze is still an anomaly to me; he’s got almost no star quality, and can’t act, and he doesn’t seem terribly handsome, but he has headlined his last six or seven films.  Once again, he makes an easy role look not so easy, but he does have one funny scene where he is dancing with Velma that brings some laughs.  Gellar and Cardellini do good work as they mostly match the styles of their TV counterpart.  And, even though he is totally animated, you don’t get turned off by Scooby’s presence mostly because he has the best lines in the film.

The real reason that this film doesn’t suck?  It has to be Lillard’s 100%-perfect performance as Shaggy; man, just like Angelina Jolie’s performance in the no-account action film “Tomb Raider” from last June, Lillard brings to life a character with a stunning resemblance to the form on which his character is based.  The voice, the faces, the movements...Lillard just IS Shaggy, and even in a bad film like this, you have to give a guy credit for going balls-deep with a role.  And, because he has the most screen time with the Scooby character, he is saying many of his lines to something that isn’t even there and that makes it all the more impressive.

Besides that, this movie blows.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09