Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/03/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Disappointing sequel with better effects but fewer gags than the first film.

The unexpectedly huge box office success of 2002’s Scooby Doo movie meant that a sequel was always going to be inevitable. Unfortunately, it’s also largely unnecessary because although the sequel ups the ante on the special effects, it also lacks a lot of the wit and invention of the first film and is ultimately disappointing.

Unsurprisingly Simple Plot Line

The plot is, unsurprisingly, pretty simple. The Mystery Incorporated gang has to capture a Mystery Villain who is terrorising their home town of Coolsville with a Monster-Making Machine capable of recreating all their classic foes, such as the Pterodactyl Ghost, The Black Knight Ghost and the 10,000 Volt Ghost.

Meanwhile, the gang come under pressure from aggressive reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone) and each of them suffers their own crisis of confidence, allowing for them to, like, learn stuff about themselves by the end.

The superb casting was a huge part of what made the first film work and the performances are easily the best thing about the sequel. Matthew Lillard (as Norville “Shaggy” Rogers) and Linda Cardellini (as Velma Dinkley) are the stand-outs, perfectly capturing their cartoon originals – Cardellini apparently learned to speak like Velma by using a language CD with her catchphrases on it.

Fred and Daphne (real life couple Freddie Prinze Jnr and Sarah Michelle Gellar) are more rounded characters this time out, which, paradoxically, makes them less funny, though their performances are still good and there’s a distinctly Buffy-like fight between Daphne and the Black Knight that should keep fans of Sarah Michelle Gellar happy. There’s also good support from Seth Green, Peter Boyle (as ‘Old Man’ Jeremiah Wilkes) and Alicia Silverstone, whose onscreen spats with Sarah Michelle Gellar only make you wish they’d shot a catfight scene.

The main improvement on the first film is in the area of the special effects. The CGI Scooby (still impeccably voiced by Neil Fanning) moves better and interacts better with the other characters. Similarly, the different monsters – each one drawn from the cartoons - are superb, though you have to wonder what sort of Scooby Doo geek remembers the names of every single monster they ever encountered.

Script Problems – Best Ideas Used In First Film

The main problem with the film is the script – it’s as if writer James Gunn used up all his best ideas on the character comedy of the first film. As a result, a lot of the humour seems forced and many of the gags don’t work – there isn’t a single genuine laugh-out-loud joke or memorable line in the entire film. In fact, the one good line (“Scoob, those guys are totally having a montage in there without us”) is ruined by poor editing (i.e., no montage).

Similarly, the slightly subversive edge (and adult appeal) of the original is completely missing – there’s only one, tiny dope gag, no “Scooby Snacks” (a thinly-veiled marijuana substitute last time round) and, worse, all hints at Velma’s possible lesbianism go out the window thanks to her subplot of having a crush on Seth Green’s character. And if director Raja Gosnell thinks he can make up for this by putting Linda Cardellini in a tight-fitting red leather catsuit, well, he’s only a little bit right.

The other main problem with the film is its blatant, intrusive product placement – apart from two embarrassingly in-your-face KFC endorsements, the soundtrack teems with Crap Rock (one scene features pop band Big Brovaz) and there’s even a post-end credits bit where Scooby gives you a GameBoy code (Worst. Post-credits. “Gag”. Ever.). It was also probably a mistake to include a ‘cameo’ appearance of sorts by a popular 2-D Warner Bros cartoon character…

In short, Scooby Doo 2 will probably keep the kids happy, but there is much less for adults this time round as it’s neither as clever nor as funny as its 2002 predecessor.

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Content updated: 14/12/2017 12:59

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