Review: Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Rating



Director

Raja Gosnell

Screenplay

James Gunn

Length

88 min.

Starring

Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, Alicia Silverstone, Neil Fanning

MPAA Rating

PG (For some scary action, rude humor and language)

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

The gang of Mystery, Inc. have become the most celebrated crime fighters in the city. When a museum dedicated to their crime solving capabilities is vandalized, their public opinion plummets and they must rebuild from the ground up in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

Everyone is back for the second installment of the nostalgia-driven film series Scooby Doo. Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and the computerized Scooby Doo (voiced by Neil Fanning). A nerdy curator has set up a museum where the costumes of those the gang vanquished in their television career are put proudly on display.

This time, a mysterious mechanized menace is terrorizing the city having developed a way to use a radioactive material to turn the costumes he steals from the museum into real ghostly terrors. The T.V. show always took care to create plenty of suspects for the Scooby and company. James Gunn, the scribe of the first film, has duplicated that style.

Our suspects include the museum curator Patrick (Seth Green) who has a fascination for Velma, Old Man Wickles (Peter Boyle) whom the gang had thwarted during the run of the television show, Jacobo (Tim Blake Nelson) the man who created the pterodactyl suit that is stolen early in the film, and Heather (Alicia Silverstone) the ace reporter whose dislike of the gang have her taking various quotes of the group and using them to turn the public against them.

The premise is outstanding. It’s great to see some of the show’s classic villains reborn. The Black Knight, Captain Cutter’s Ghost, Miner 49er and the electricity ghost are among the motley crew. Had the execution not been highly faulty, perhaps the film would have been more revered.

Director Raja Gosnell who helmed the original does a poor job in his second outing creating a truly haunting atmosphere, eliciting stand-out performances and avoiding horrendous cliches. What made the original fun was that it poked fun at itself. Gosnell, along with screenwriter Gunn, have ignored that kitsch that made the first installment entertaining. Instead, they decide to go on a moralizing trek through kid show land.

Scooby and Shaggy feel they have been the reason for Mystery, Incorporated’s failures and consistently question their own worth. This type of didactic approach leaves little question in the viewer’s mind that the series is taking a turn for the worst. The greatest part of the original series was that no matter how much Scooby and Shaggy got into trouble, the gang always supported them and we never had to listen to them whine about anything other than the scary ghosts haunting the spooky mansion.

The further disservice to the film is its spate of bad performances. The acting is so over the top that any good will developed from the first film is instantly dashed, even with Lillard’s spot-on impression of Casey Kasem (the original voice of Shaggy). Green and Boyle add a needed spark but Silverstone gives such a bland performance that even acting school couldn’t help.

With the undoubted success of this second feature, it’s not unfathomable that a third film is in the works or will be shortly. As a fan of the original cartoon, I might suggest a selection of real guest stars like the Harlem Globetrotters, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Reid or even Batman and Robin (they could use a hit).

Scooby Doo 2 certainly unleashes its monsters on an unsuspecting audience. Kids are showing up in droves to watch the film despite its absence of quality. The fantastic sight gags and not-so-funny one-liners will keep everyone entertained, but, sadly, the in-jokes and subtle humor are lost on those who can’t spot or understand them.

Review Written

August 28, 2004

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