Fri. Jul 19th, 2024


The live-action Scooby-Doo movies of the early 2000s are a great example of how to do live-action reboots right, capturing the essence of the cartoons while adding a different spin to the characters.

The films feature an incredible cast that perfectly brings the characters’ quirks to life, especially Matthew Lillard’s portrayal of Shaggy, which led to him becoming Shaggy’s full-time voice actor in later cartoons.

The movies are hilarious, with jokes rooted in the characters and clever throwbacks to the Scooby-Doo franchise, making them a perfect reflection of the cartoon while also serving as an introduction to new viewers.

While they may get a bad reputation, the live-action Scooby-Doo movies of the early 2000s are actually great. With franchise reboots in abundance, and rarely executed well, these movies are a great example of how to do it right. The original live-action Scooby-Doo films managed to capture the essence of the cartoons while adding a different spin to the characters, resulting in some of the best comedy movies of the early 2000s.

2002’s Scooby-Doo and its follow-up Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed were both made with a lot of love for the original Scooby-Doo animated series. Both films are directed by Raja Gosnell, best known for his work as an editor on films such as Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, with scripts from James Gunn, of DC and Marvel fame. The films’ visuals and humor capture the cartoonish style of the Mystery Gang’s origins, with an incredible cast that not only nails the unique voices and mannerisms of each character but also imbues them with a ton of heart. From the cast to the plot, there are many reasons as to why these films aged relatively well.

8 The Amazing Scooby-Doo Cast

Playing the central gang are Linda Cardellini as Velma, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, the now real-life couple Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. as Daphne and Fred, respectively, and Neil Fanning as the voice of Scooby. All of them perfectly bring these character’s quirks to life, finding ways to give hints of the original cartoon characters through their voices, while still making the roles their own. Their comedic timing, and especially their sense of physical comedy, is highly impressive. Lillard’s Shaggy is the highlight of the films, and the role led to him becoming Shaggy’s full-time voice actor in cartoons a few years later.

Related: 13 Best Scooby-Doo Movies Ranked

7 Scooby-Doo’s Physical Comedy

One of the things the movie knocked out of the park was the physical comedy of the cartoon, which the cast was especially game for. At every venture, the cast and crew found ways to add physical gags to even the most straightforward of scenes. Many of these physical gags are homages straight from the TV series, from a hysterical montage of Shaggy and Scooby trying on ridiculous outfits, to the way Scooby’s fall down a trapdoor is delayed by his midair running. The physical comedy enhances the already funny script and makes the film feel like a perfect reflection of the cartoon.

6 The Scooby-Doo Movies Had Hilarious Jokes

James Gunn has often proved his ability to throw comedy into his films, and the scripts he wrote for the Scooby-Doo movies are no different. These films are hilarious, with a campy sense of comedy just like the shows. The jokes are always rooted in the characters, from jokes about Fred’s iconic ascot or his overconfidence to scenes of Shaggy and Scooby stuffing their faces with food in the characters’ typical fashion. The second film’s opening even features a subtle but hilarious joke (that will fly over kids’ heads) about Shaggy’s stoner origins.

5 Clever Scooby-Doo Franchise Throwbacks

One of the reasons the films are so great areisat they work as both an introduction to these characters and as a continuation for the series’ already many fans. For those who are familiar with the original TV shows, the movies host a ton of outright references, as well as clever easter eggs. There’s the use of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! title song in the first movie’s opening.

The second film is entirely focused on a series of monsters from various moments in the franchise’s history. The gang’s killer outfits also feature many references to the series, the films can’t leave out some of the most iconic cartoon character catchphrases of all time, hitting every one of the show’s catchphrases, from “Ruh-roh” to the bit about the “meddling kids”.

4 Hard-To-Solve Scooby-Doo Mysteries

Beyond his ability with comedy, James Gunn did a great job of writing mysteries that felt like they came straight out of the show. The film’s mysteries were complicated, and riddled with red herrings to keep the audience guessing. Not only did Gunn nail the intrigue and excitement of the film’s whodunnits, but he also managed to always bring them back to the script’s real focus – the gang and their friendships. Each of the challenges they faced brought the gang closer together or threatened to tear their friendship apart forever. Plus, each character was given equal importance with their specific character arcs, like Daphne’s increasing bravery.

3 The Movies Had Great Soundtracks

The movies have incredibly memorable soundtracks, filled with classic bops and nostalgic references to the series like several of the themes from the franchise’s TV shows over the years. In addition, it has a fantastic original score by Academy Award-nominated composer David Newman that manages to be eerie, cartoonishly plunk, and heart-pounding exciting when needed. The highlight of the film’s soundtrack, though, is the endless list of notable pop and rock-and-roll songs featured. The movie features songs from Fatboy Slim, Simple Plan, Solange Knowles, Kylie Minogue, and (in a clever joke from the director) rapper Shaggy

2 The Direction

Director Raja Gosnell perfectly captures the fast-paced and ridiculous tone iconic to the series. His clever staging of the film’s many clever physical gags made even more cartoonish through sped-up frames and odd angles, feels like the perfect way to bring this franchise from animation to real life. Gosnell, along with production designer Bill Boes, nails the colorfully retro and eerily funhouse-like visual aesthetic that makes the films feel like a reflection of the franchise.

1 The Movies Were Faithful To The Source Material

The combination of these many different successful parts is two hilarious films that also feel like faithful adaptations of the Scooby-Doo cartoons. The movies retain the campiness of the shows and their often genuinely spooky atmosphere. They also nail the shows’ ability to deliver long physical gags amidst complex and intriguing mysteries. From clever visual throwbacks to iconic catchphrases, Scooby-Doo and its sequel Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed are insanely funny and endlessly rewatchable films. It’s too bad James Gunn’s crazy idea for a third Scooby-Doo movie never came to fruition.

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