Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) / Comedy-Mystery
MPAA Rated: PG for some scary action, crude humor, and language
Running Time: 88 min.
Cast: Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green, Alicia Silverstone, Peter Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, Neil Fanning (voice)
Director: Raja Gosnell
Screenplay: James Gunn
Review published March 29, 2004
Although the first entry in the Scooby-Doo series was a box office hit, it just wasn't a very good film in the slightest, so general expectations coming into this sequel, which has the same creative team, were extremely low at best. Adding to these apprehensions, sequels are almost always inferior to their predecessors, usually trying too hard to recapture the magic that made the first so appealing, and by overplaying their hands, the balance is out of whack, and the chemistry nonexistent. However, every once in a while, the creators of a film listen to the fans and critics, and try their best to incorporate suggestions and reduce the mistakes of the first time around, and as a result, a better film is made.
Scooby-Doo 2 is the film that Warner Bros. should have crafted the first time around. Although it does continue some of the crude humor and ridiculous fighting that permeated the first Scooby, the spirit and plotting of part 2 are far closer to the source material from which it draws inspiration, the hit animated show of the 60s and 70s. While it won't be confused as being great in the end, Scooby 2 actually has its share of funny moments and clever ideas, and should go a long way to appeasing the fans of the TV cartoon while still retaining some of the audience who enjoyed the loose and lowbrow first film.
This sequel doesn't really require you to watch the first film to understand, so if you haven't seen it, you can just skip it. A maniacal villain has a plot to control the city of Coolsville with the help of a powerful device that has the ability of recreating the bad guys that Scooby and the Gang helped capture. Along the way, they meet up with a museum curator (Green, Austin Powers) who has the hots for Velma (Cardellini, Legally Blonde), and a snoopy reporter (Silverstone, Clueless) who seems hell-bent on giving the Gang as much bad press as possible.
Mindless special effects threaten to overtake the final half hour, but up until then, Scooby 2 offers a pleasantly funny escapist diversion, with a good share of jokes aimed at the young and old alike. Fans of the cartoon should enjoy seeing homages to the memorable villains of their youth, while also laughing at the formula wrap-up revelation of what's been behind all of the dastardly deeds. Contrary to the first entry, they came into this sequel with a full script prepared, and almost every scene has something to do with the plot at hand, even if only tangentially. Also excised are many of the jokes that made the Gang act out of character, although there are a couple of moments of flatulence which have almost become a staple in movies aimed at kids these days.
Despite the corrections, Scooby-Doo 2 is still a ways off from being a genuinely good film, but it is still worthwhile fun for those who haven't been completely turned off to the project. Not really what Hanna-Barbera envisioned, but also not the Doo-Doo that you probably expect after part one.
©2004 Vince Leo