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SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED
U.S. Release Date: March 26, 2004
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: James Gunn
Producer: Charles Roven
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Matthew Lillard, Seth Green, Alicia Silverstone
Running Time: 1 hour and 27 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG (for some scary action, rude humor and language)

Scooby Dooby Don't
by C.A. Wolski

In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed there is one mystery those notoriously meddlesome kids Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and canine Scooby Doo, don't solve: Why this waste of celluloid was made in the first place. Of course, it doesn't take a great fictional detective like Sherlock Holmes or even a bad one like Inspector Gadget to figure it out. The first flick grossed $153 million in theaters alone, so a sequel was inevitable.

Scooby-Doo 2 is about as unnecessary as a movie can get with a dreadful script, flat directing, bad acting and poor special effects. Little ones might find the antics of Scooby and his pals funny—the script relies on fart and vomit jokes to elicit laughs—but, if the kids at a recent press screening are any indication, by the 75 minute mark, they'll be ready to go home.

The plot, for what it's worth, catches up with the Mystery Inc. gang as they're being feted at the Coolsville Museum of Criminology. On display are the costumes of all the "monsters" they have uncovered over the years. The costumes are pretty cheesy, looking as if they were picked up at a bargain basement Halloween outlet store. That is until they start coming to life, transformed into real monsters, causing all sorts of mischief aimed at undermining those meddlesome kids' reputation. The architect of the attack is a masked villain out of a bad Power Rangers episode.

Mystery Inc. starts an investigation (the police oddly absent) with a couple of detours to explore Velma's budding sexuality (she is in love with the curator of the museum) and Shaggy and Scooby's realization—drumroll please—that they're screw ups and need to act more like detectives. The monster hunt is dreadful and makes the old cartoon show look positively sublime by comparison. Surprisingly, Scooby-Doo 2 (like its predecessor) was written by James Gunn, who penned the Dawn of the Dead remake. While his zombie epic displays a balance of wit, terror and drama, Scooby-Doo 2 is just dead in the water with several bizarre asides like Shaggy and Scooby—the latter donning an Afro wig—infiltrating a bar frequented by unmasked former "monsters" and includes implied beastiality. Another scene has the two dullards transforming themselves into monsters, women and brainiacs, for no reason, not even to find any "clues."

The acting is uniformly terrible and painful to watch. Prinze and Gellar are particularly bad with Prinze going through the motions and Gellar essentially playing Buffy the Vampire Slayer in purple velour. The budding romance between Velma (Linda Cardellini) and curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) is handled poorly and is missing one important element: chemistry. Lillard, as Shaggy, is the only actor who seems to be having any fun, and he does bring a sort of drug-induced buoyancy to the obviously stoner character.

The biggest problem with the movie is Scooby-Doo himself. The CGI-constructed character is just plain creepy looking and too cartoony (which would be fine in a cartoon, but doesn't work in this live action movie). Added to that, the talking dog is essentially a gleefully ignorant moron, so he isn't very sympathetic, particularly when he tries and fails to help the gang.

Scooby-Doo 2 could have been fun, but the production design is on the one hand weak and on the other underused. The "real" monsters aren't that compelling nor rendered in a scary fashion. A creepy mansion replete with Rube Goldberg-esque traps isn't even utilized well.

When the monstrous mastermind is unmasked, well, who cares? If one must have a Scooby fix, the best bet is to watch a rerun of the original show.


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