It’s about time that this film, the live action Scooby-Doo got the recognition that it deserves. From start to finish, this film is perfection.
Let’s begin with the casting, shall we? There is not a more perfectly casted film ever in the history of cinema. Not only did they nail it with the looks of each character, but each actor really sold their performance. They were believable as these animated characters and, even more, they added depth to each character. This was not only because of the writing, but because of the acting. It was believable that Velma was tired of not getting any credit for her plans and that Daphne was fed up with always being the damsel in distress. The character development was excellent and, honestly, impressive since the source material is pretty black and white. Not only did Sarah Michelle Gellar and Linda Cardellini sell it as Daphne and Velma, but Freddie Prinze Jr. did an excellent job as the dimwitted leader of Mystery Inc. But, the creme de la creme was, without a single doubt, Mr. Matthew Lillard as Norville “Shaggy” Rogers. If there ever was a role meant for an actor or vice versa, this was it. Matthew Lillard is the embodiment of Shaggy. AND he worked most of the film with a non-existent, post production CGI dog. From the look to the voice to his movements, he nails it. I dare you to show me more perfect casting than Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers. I’ll wait.
The story for Scooby-Doo is flawless through and through. First, written by James Gunn, which explains why the film is just creepy enough while still being “kid friendly”. The premise of Mystery Inc breaking up and then “accidentally” reuniting on Spooky Island, then having to come together to save each other is genius. Also genius is how all the characters still have that 1970s essence to them, while seamlessly fitting in with everybody else. That goes for the 70s slang, too. I think all of this is helped because the characters are effectively removed from the “real world” and placed on a fictional island. I also must mention that the amount of jokes for adults in this film makes it doubly enjoyable. The amount of jokes about Shaggy being a stoner, alone, makes this film worth the watch. For goodness sake, when we cut to Shaggy and Scooby after Mystery Inc. breaks up, we see the Mystery Machine (it’s Shaggy’s. Who knew?) and we see smoke coming out the top. We then begin to pan down inside the Mystery Machine and hear Shaggy say “Man, talk about toasted” right before we see he is grilling eggplant burgers. AND the song playing in this scene is called “Pass the Dutchie”. I mean, come on!
For being made in the year 2002, the CGI to create the actual dog Scooby-Doo is wonderful. Scooby nearly feels real in his interactions with the cast, as well as his interaction with any real life objects. I never cease to be impressed by the tables moving when he’s under them, or people being knocked over. The timing is always perfect. The biggest key to the CGI aging fairly well is that Scooby-Doo is a semi-anthropomorphic dog. He’s supposed to not seem fully real. That plays in the movies favor.
Lastly, I need to mention the music, both the score for the film and the film’s soundtrack. The score, composed by David Newman, fits the film perfectly. It masterfully weaves the theme music and musical melodies from the animated cartoon series and incorporates them with new music. It all seamlessly blends together. And, as for the soundtrack, they did not have to go as hard as they did. Have you heard the soundtrack to Scooby-Doo? It SLAPS. Do yourself a favor and listen to it. It’ll pump you up.
Honestly, if I had to choose only one film to watch for the rest of my life, it would probably be this one. I need Daphne becoming an absolute badass and Shaggy and Scooby-Doo’s friendship in my life. I need Velma realizing her worth and I need Fred to walk through the door after the line “the only thing missing is a mindless zombie”. I will defend this film until the day I die. I love it with all my heart and it is utterly perfect. And, no one can convince me otherwise.