Scooby-Doo (also known as Scooby-Doo: The Movie) is a 2002 American comedy horror mystery film. Based on the long-running Hanna-Barbera cartoon series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the film was directed by Raja Gosnell, written by James Gunn and stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard and Rowan Atkinson. It is the first installment in the Scooby-Doo live-action film series.
It received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, but later gained a cult following from fans of the show. It was filmed on Queensland, Australia and Warner Roadshow Studios, and later after the film released, the roller-coaster named Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster was opened at Warner Bros. Movie World on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia; the ride was later upgraded as Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster: Next Generation with a new storyline, theme and special effects in December 2018.
A fully computer-animated reboot to the live-action film series, SCOOB!, was released on May 15, 2020 and became the first installment of the Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe with Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and Dick Dastardly as the main villain.
Zoinks! Two years after a clash of egos forced Mystery Inc. to close its doors, Scooby-Doo and his clever crime-solving cohorts Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Velma (Linda Cardellini) are individually summoned to Spooky Island to investigate a series of paranormal incidents at the ultra-hip Spring Break hot spot.
- Poor grasp of the source material, with the movie being unable to decide whether if it wants to be a satire or homage to the source material, resulting in a cluttered, unfocused plot that misses the ideas of the original series and what made it work.
- The film even makes it seem like Daphne gets kidnapped all the time, even though she rarely gets kidnapped that much in any of the prior shows, though she did have a tendency to wander into traps.
- The film (at least the beginning) is a rehash of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, as both films start off with the gang unmasking a suspect, then splitting up, reuniting years later, and then being invited into an island by the island's owner and the owner's partner, on which they encounter monsters that are not merely people in costumes. The differences here being the owner and his partner are men instead of women, and the island is out in the ocean rather than off the coast of Louisiana. Also, in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the gang had reunited for Daphne's birthday when they are invited to the island. Here, they are all invited individually, and find themselves reunited once on the island.
- Mary Jane is a pointless and unnecessary love interest for Shaggy, as she is never seen again in the sequel.
- Pointless romantic subplots given to Shaggy and Velma that contribute nothing to the film.
- The main characters come across as unlikeable throughout the film and barely act like their usual incarnations:
- Fred goes from being the calm, yet laid-back leader to a narcissistic jock who takes advantage of the team's success, despite not even doing much (if any) of the planning.
- Daphne goes from being the damsel-in-distress to being a stereotypical popular girl whose sole arc is to not become a damsel with no character development or reason.
- Velma goes from being the sensible voice of reason to being an argumentative know-it-all, also demonstrated by the fact that Fred, Daphne, and Velma spend the majority of the film just arguing with each other.
- Shaggy goes from being a comedic goofball into an incompetent and unlikable idiot. For example, in one scene, he suggests just leaving Fred and Velma to die while he, Daphne, and Scooby-Doo escape Spooky Island.
- The flashback with Scrappy-Doo shows Mystery inc. just abandoning him in the middle of nowhere, especially since Scooby is technically Scrappy's caretaker; as a result, the Mystery Inc. comes across as villains rather than heroes.
- There's also a somewhat mean-spirited scene where Fred flicks Scooby in the nose to keep him quiet, only for the latter to punch Fred in the face.
- Daphne's outfit is wrong. She never wore go-go boots in the cartoon, except in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo! (although they still don't suit her).
- The kiss between Fred and Daphne at the end of the film is quite unnecessary and out of place since at no time the relationship between them is explored.
- Plot hole: By the end of the movie, after the demons are destroyed by the sun, the souls of the students return to their bodies, but what happened to the students who left the island possessed? This is why Mondavarious called the team in the first place.
- Poor attempts at humor, which mostly consists of fart and burp jokes, none of which were even in the original cartoon series, to begin with.
- Speaking of humor, after Fred's soul is gets into Daphne's body, he says "Hey, I can look at myself naked!", which is very uncomfortable for some fans and very inappropriate for a PG film.
- As with most of the humor falling flat, there's even a pointless scene where Scooby-Doo and Shaggy have a burping and farting contest that drags on for longer than a minute and does nothing to contribute to the film other than just for cheap, lazy and childish attempts at comedy.
- Like It's A Very Muppet Christmas Movie, The movie cannot seem to decide whether if it wants to be for children, for teenagers, or for adults. Initially, the film was aiming for the PG-13 rating (although there was an R-rated cut of Scooby-Doo according to screenwriter James Gunn), before Warner Bros. toned it down to aim for a PG rating instead, resulting in the removal of several scenes so the film would get a PG rating, notably an alternate opening sequence is done in the distinctive artstyle of the original series.
- There were several scenes that were deleted but that were necessary to understand some scenes. Particularly one in which Shaggy witnesses how Daphne's soul is extracted from herself and her body possessed by one of the demons after being captured (which was deleted for being considered quite terrifying) which would have explained why Shaggy looked scared before entering the cave, why Daphne's soul was in the cauldron and why Velma found her possessed in a corridor.
- Ugly and dated visual effects (even by 2002 standards), especially for the creatures and the titular character, who barely resembles his iconic counterpart and sometimes never looks like he is even here.
- In the climax, there was no need for a trap in the first place. When Shaggy finds a well of souls captured by the demons, he frees only Fred, Daphne, and Velma's souls instead of saving everyone else's souls (especially since it is still daytime and it was established that the demons dissolve in sunlight). Not helping is that Daphne successfully beats Zarkos and kicks him down the roof where the well of souls is and manages to knock it over, freeing everyone's souls in the process, making the viewer wonder why Shaggy didn't do it earlier.
- The "jump-the-shark" moment, where the film officially gets to flip it's middle finger to its source material, is when it's revealed that Scrappy-Doo is the main antagonist. Why would the creators of this movie choose him to be the main villain knowing how hated this character was in first place?
- Even though Scrappy-Doo was a somewhat obnoxious character, to begin with, he still had plenty of redeeming qualities and became a lot better portrayed once Don Messick took over the role. The film, on the contrary, drastically flanderizes Scrappy to the point of making him very intentionally obnoxious and unlikable without any redeeming qualities whatsoever; as a result, Scrappy's villainous role in the film officially ruins his character as a whole due to Warner Bros. and writer James Gunn (who later admitted that he despised Scrappy-Doo with a burning passion) having had made him this way just to symbolize their hatred of him and axe him from the franchise permanently.
- In fact, Tim Curry, who was originally going to play Mondavarius (and what would have been his second role in a Scooby-Doo film, behind Scooby-Doo and the witch’s ghost), decided to leave the project after finding out that Scrappy Doo was going to be the real villain.
- False advertising: The trailers, posters and commercials made it look like the Luna Ghost was going to be the main antagonist of the film, but he only appears briefly in the first act.
- Good score composed by David Newman, with a good cover of the original Scooby-Doo theme.
- The voice acting for Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo and the Spooky Island Demons is surprisingly good.
- The four casting choices for our main characters were all spot on since they all mostly resemble the designs of the original cartoon. Matthew Lillard especially steals the show as he nails the role of Shaggy so well that you feel that you're watching the actual animated character, his performance was praised from both critics and fans and he later became the official voice actor of Shaggy.
- Even though the trap in the climax was unnecessary, it was impressively well-put together.
- The Scrappy-Doo jokes are somewhat funny, especially when he claims he’s as cute as a Powerpuff girl.
- Although the effects are bad for the most part, the Luna Ghost's effects are surprisingly good.
- The CGI used to remove the cleavage from the female characters is quite stunning as well.
- While still considered a bad film, it has gained a cult following for those who grew up in the early 2000s.
- The teaser trailer attached to screenings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone hilariously tricked people into thinking there is a Batman reboot coming up with Scooby-Doo inside a mansion saying "Who, me? Rah-uh!"
- Melvin Doo is quite a funny minor character who shares the same last name as Scooby but is a human being. The bar owner gets a call for a Mr. Doo. Melvin thought that the call was for him but the bartender explained the call is for Scooby. He gets brought up again after Scrappy wants Scooby-Doo’s soul, with Scooby-Doo saying “Me? Don’t you mean Melvin Doo?”
- On the plus side, Mary Jane is quite likable compared to the Mystery Inc. crew.
- Zarkos is seen as a surprisingly hardcore minor villain.
- The Luna Ghost in the prologue is a memorable Scooby-Doo villain, complete with Joker/Pennywise mannerisms. It helps that he later appeared in the first episode of Mystery Incorporated.
- The production design for Spooky Island is quite unique and many people wished it was real.
- It had some good foreshadowing for the divisive Scrappy-Doo reveal. For example, the fake Emile Mondavarious is seen inside a mechanical device greeting Mystery Inc. Also, Mondavarious was scratching himself like a dog. And the Wow-O Toy Factory was named after one of Scrappy’s catchphrases.
- Most of it was ignored for good in Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, with a more kid-friendly tone and better grasp of the cartoons.
Scooby-Doo received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics and fans alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 30% based on 145 reviews and an average rating of 4.37/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Though Lillard is uncannily spot-on as Shaggy, Scooby-Doo is a tired live-action update, filled with lame jokes." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 35 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
- Frank Welker (the current voice of both Fred and Scooby) played the creatures alongside Jess Harnell.
- The film was the major screenwriting debut of James Gunn.
- The film was originally going to have a PG-13 rating and had a more mature tone that poked fun at the original series. Shaggy was going to be a stoner, Velma and Daphne had a side lesbian relationship and there were many marijuana references. James Gunn confirmed in 2017 that the cut actually almost got an R-rating and they had to use CGI to cut out the female characters' cleavage.
- Shortly after the film was finished, Freddie Prinze Jr. (the actor for Fred in the film) hated having his hair dyed blonde and ended up shaving it all off.
- To help differentiate it with the franchise, fans prefer to call this film "Scooby-Doo: Spooky Island".