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Buffy The Vampire SlayerSarah M. Gellar Scoobydoo 2 - Reuters.com Review
By Michael Rechtshaffen
Monday 22 March 2004, by Webmaster
Film Review: ’Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed’
Sun Mar 21, 2004 03:48 PM ET
By Michael Rechtshaffen
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In a rare sequel-making situation, the big-screen "Scooby-Doo’s" original director (Raja Gosnell) and original screenwriter (James Gunn) both came back to do "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed."
But rather than taking an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach to the follow-up to their $150 million-plus-grossing hit, they’ve instead chosen to take those beloved Hanna-Barbera characters and give them a garish, extreme makeover.
What managed to capture that goofy, far-out charm of the animated series has been reduced to a loud, obnoxious mess of lame humor, CGI overload and (jinkies!) the Mystery Inc. gang stopping the action dead to confront their own personal demons during extended self-analysis sessions.
Given the broad appeal of the first installment, parents will dutifully trot their kids out to this one, though the prevailing level of intensity could prove a little much for the younger ones.
Without the added benefit provided by a summer release, however, not to mention all those nostalgic, curiosity-seeking twenty- and thirtysomethings who came out in droves the first time around, the sequel’s got a ghost of a chance of matching the original’s total take.
Still basking in the glow of their previous crime-solving caper, Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby (voiced by Neil Fanning) have become the collective toast of their Coolsville, USA, hometown.
In addition to having moved from their humble Mystery Inc. digs into swank corporate headquarters, they’re being honored at an evening affair at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum, which is exhibiting the costumes of all the ghoulish villains they’ve unmasked over the years.
But all hell breaks loose when the Pterodactyl Ghost costume turns out to be the real thing and Scoob and company find themselves at the center of an ugly smear campaign.
Could the masked figure responsible be "Old Man" Wickles (Peter Boyle), the former Black Knight Ghost out to avenge his jail time?
Or how about the annoying Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone), a TV reporter who seems intent on making Mystery Inc. look bad?
Or Patrick Wisely (Seth Green), the museum’s curator with whom Velma has become incurably smitten?
Actually, the biggest mystery is why Gosnell and Gunn, who nailed the tone so effectively the last time, have seen fit to sabotage the enterprise by, among other things, introducing ridiculous character arcs that have the kids taking time out to look within and do some psychological unmasking. And then there’s the sequence in which brainy Velma is given a slinky Bond-girl makeover (goodbye specs and, apparently, considerable pounds) in order to be more attractive to Wisely.
By the time they’re done with all the tinkering, "Scooby-Doo" ends up bearing as much a resemblance to Hanna-Barbera as the recent "Cat in the Hat" did to Dr. Seuss.
Stripped of their defining traits, Gellar and Prinze (who has been given a new, un-Freddie-like do) don’t have much to do except run a lot, leaving the physical comedy, as in "all fart jokes all the time," to Lillard and his CGI pal.
But even Lillard, who so convincingly stole the show last time, seems to run out of creative steam as the bug-eyed, frantic guy with the zoned-out Casey Kasem voice, giving the kiddies a lot less opportunity to laugh.
If it hadn’t been for those meddling filmmakers . . . .
Cast: Fred Jones: Freddie Prinze Jr.; Daphne Blake: Sarah Michelle Gellar; Shaggy: Matthew Lillard; Velma Dinkley: Linda Cardellini; Patrick Wisely: Seth Green; Jeremiah Wickles: Peter Boyle; Dr. Jonathan Jacobo: Tim Blake Nelson; Heather Jasper-Howe: Alicia Silverstone; Scooby-Doo (voice): Neil Fanning.
Director: Raja Gosnell; Producers: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle; Screenwriter: James Gunn; Based on characters created by: Hanna-Barbera Prods.; Executive producers: Brent O’Connor, Kelley Smith-Wait, Joseph Barbera; Director of photography: Oliver Wood; Production designer: Bill Boes; Editor: Kent Beyda; Costume designer: Leesa Evans; Visual effects supervisor: Peter Crosman; Music: David Newman.