Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Review

An incredible amount of care and effort has gone into making the two Scooby-Doo movies. These are films which aspire only to reproduce a 35-year-old Hanna-Barbera cartoon about teenage ghosthunters, yet they've been made with a genuine love for the material and a fan's obsessive attention to detail. While neither film could possibly be described as great and it would be generous to call them good, they're not lazy, they haven't been churned out and in their own little way, they deserve admiration. Everyone expected the first Scooby-Doo to be crap. Here was a film starring Freddie Prinze Jr, one of the least appealing male leads Hollywood's ever produced, and directed by Raja Gosnell, the man who previously inflicted on the world Never Been Kissed and Big Momma's House. Surprise, surprise, it was painless fun and preferable to many of summer 2002's more anticipated blockbusters (Men In Black II for starters). Now here's the sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, surely they'll have run out of ideas. Nope, if anything, it's better than the original. Perhaps its makers should now quit while they're ahead and attempt something which could earn them higher praise than "it's almost as good as the cartoon".

This is where I normally provide a plot synopsis so here it is: a mysterious villain needs to be unmasked, spooky things happen, and the cast run around expensive sets, screaming a lot. That's about it. Come to think of it, that also sums up Halle Berry's new film, Gothika. What fun there is to be had comes from the actors and the script's scattered moments of comic inspiration. The high point is a visit to a rough bar called the Faux Ghost, which is patronised exclusively by villains unmasked by Scooby and the gang. Like all rough bars, it has a popular disco night with a hip hop group playing (Big Brovaz no less!) so Shaggy and Scooby go undercover in seventies threads and Scooby gets carried away on the dancefloor. If the sight of Scooby-Doo strutting his stuff in a rhinestone suit and an afro doesn't make you laugh then this is definitely not the movie for you. It's moments like that, like Velma dressing up as a red leather goddess, like Shaggy and Scoobys' method of dispatching a candy floss monster and like the occasional, too-subtle-for-kids stoner joke that make Scooby-Doo 2 much more fun for over-tens than The Haunted Mansion. even though, like that dismal Eddie Murphy film, it is burdened by endless scenes of people being chased by special effects. Or, in the case of Scooby, special effects being chased by special effects.

The sheer likeability of the Shaggy and Scooby double act gets the movie through a lot of the duller stuff. Matthew Lillard for all wants and purposes is Shaggy. It's like he embodies the cartoon character. Laugh all you want but Charlize Theron just won an Oscar for doing something not dissimilar and she didn't have to play most of her scenes opposite a computer-animated dog. Scooby himself is not only a technical wonder but an enormously appealing character in his own right, credit for which goes to voice actor Neil Fanning and a lot of animators. As Velma, Linda Cardellini has some fun scenes, romancing a nerdy museum curator (Seth Green) and getting a makeover from Daphne. Sarah Michelle Gellar has less to do, though it's fun to watch her put a comic spin on her ass-kicking babe routine. Only Freddie Prinze Jr is conspicuous by his lack of enthusiasm. He was surprisingly good in the first movie, where he made fun of his own smug image as much as the cartoon Fred's, but here he looks quite miserable. He doesn't even bother with Fred's haircut this time. The spoilsport!

Overall

5

out of 10

Last updated: 23/06/2018 21:21:58

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