Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Movie Information

Genre: Kid Comedy
Director: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle
Rated: PG

After I burned out on admiring the gorgeous, slightly sub-Tim Burton production design by Bill Boes (who started out trying to make films look Burtonesque with Monkeybone), and after I got beyond wallowing in cinematographer Oliver Wood’s strikingly saturated colors, I realized I still had about 70 of Scooby Doo 2’s 91 minutes to slog my way through.

I spent part of the time wondering if the sole existence of the franchise was to find movies Freddie Prinze Jr. could star in that didn’t rely on his presence and could still make money (the latter stipulation being seemingly impossible minus the former). And I spent a good bit more time debating whether anyone actually told David Newman to make the score sound as much like a Danny Elfman rip-off as humanly possible (while still including that annoying Scooby Doo theme).

But mostly, I wondered just how long it would be possible for Prinze (28), Sarah Michelle Gellar (26), Matthew Lillard (34) and Linda Cardellini (29) to star in movies where they comport themselves as teenage heroes. But since the Scooby Doo films are pretty obviously made for not-very-demanding 6-to-10 year olds, it probably doesn’t matter; thus, it seems likely that this cast will be stuck in the limbo of live-action Hannah-Barbera hell until they’re older than the Bowery Boys were when they finally decided that 40-odd-year-old comic juvenile delinquents just weren’t cutting it.

I’ll admit that this film is marginally better than the first Scooby Doo, helped out by such “guest stars” as Seth Green (who isn’t given much to do) and Peter Boyle (who gets most of the best lines). A slumming Tim Blake Nelson scarcely registers (apart from his few lines at the end), but the film does answer the whatever-became-of-Alicia Silverstone question — assuming that anyone ever thinks to ask it.

For kids, the film is probably OK stuff, though one might question the inclusion of a gag involving Shaggy (Lillard) getting a buzz by inhaling the gas in a whipped cream can. The obligatory kiddie-flick Flatulent Quotient is, however, very high (including a potentially disastrous don’t-try-this-at-home anal doggie-flame-thrower trick). However, the effects are good, the monsters are cool without being scary and the action is pretty much nonstop.

This is good-looking, mindless junk that’s apt to prove tedious to anyone over the age of 10 who isn’t deeply entrenched in nostalgia for mediocre cartoons from his or her youth.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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