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While investigating a robbery at the Coolsville Museum, the Mystery Inc team of crime-solvers - Fred (Freddy Prinze Jr), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardinelli), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby Doo (voice of Neil Fanning) inadvertently damage the museum's property, giving local TV reporter Heather (Alicia Silverstone) the chance to undermine their credibility. Realising they've been set up, the team continue investigating and soon stumble upon a scheme to use costumes stolen from the museum to bring monsters back to life and threaten the city.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Complaining that Scooby Doo 2 isn't a great movie feels a bit pointless, like expecting to find serious literature on the side of a cornflakes packet. Though some talent and wit has gone into costumes, sets and monster design, director Raja Gosnell clearly isn't trying to realise a personal vision. The film is partly a rough sketch for a video game or theme park ride - with Jack-in-the-box digital effects planted around every corner - and partly a broad "family comedy" that never takes itself seriously enough to make us care.

The superannuated teen idols in the lead roles ham it up relentlessly, demonstrating for the most part that "cartoon" acting is best left to professionals, though Matthew Lillard's whirling dervish performance as Shaggy went down well with children at the screening I attended (he's certainly more animated than his canine sidekick). Personally, the only actor I enjoyed watching was Seth Green, who has just a couple of scenes as a museum curator with horn-rimmed glasses and artfully tousled hair - a stylised young fogey out of a Wes Anderson film.

Given the source material and commercial constraints, is there any way this project could have been an artistic success? Maybe if Warners had gone nuts and hired Anderson to reinvigorate the franchise with his peculiar brand of nerdy nostalgia. Or, more realistically, if a crack team of screenwriters were on hand to provide genuinely zany jokes, as in the wonderful Looney Tunes: Back In Action. As it is, James Gunn's slick but unappealing script covers the usual bases: oblique drug references for the uni students, moral messages for the parents, and toilet humour for the pre-school set.

Like so many of its kind, the end product is utterly joyless and lacking in spontaneity - however mediocre, the original cartoon was a model of crude innocence by comparison. I pity the kids who are growing up with this pablum as their daily bread.

Published September 23, 2004

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CAST: Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, Alicia Silverstone

DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell

SCRIPT: James Gunn (characters by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera)

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes with/w'out commentary; triple threat; dancing dog, Coolsville Caper interactive game; mystery of the missing pants; music videos

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: September 23, 2004

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