James Gunn has seen a meteoric career takeoff in the past decade. The Troma alum has seen massive success with not only Guardians of the Galaxy, but with his DC foray with The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. And with his star shining brighter than it ever got with Tromeo and Juliet, a lot more of his work is getting recognized. One such is his writing credit in the 2000s Scooby-Doo movies. I grew up watching the first one and loved it. But whenever I see a movie I grew up with, I have to wonder how much it holds up — and in this case, how much of today’s Gunn can we see.
The movie opens with the Mystery Inc. gang: Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), the leader and himbo of the group, Velma (Linda Cardinelli), the brains of the group, Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the pretty face who’s fed up with being the damsel in distress, Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and the eponymous Scooby-Doo. After foiling yet another masked hooligan, the gang breaks up after getting fed up with each other. After two years apart, they come together at the behest of Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson), the founder of Spooky Island, an island resort that sucks the souls out of its teenaged guests.
It’s been almost a decade since I’ve seen this, and watching it again, I start to appreciate the cast. Everyone stands out and has a great performance. Lillard is just as enjoyable as Shaggy as I remembered, and it’s fun to see Gellar in contrast to her role as the Slayer in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Prinze is a joy in this movie, as he, like Brendan Fraser, remind me of not only how good of an actor he is, but also setting a progenitor for the modern day himbo. And the inter-group chemistry is amazing with Prinze, Gellar, and Cardellini as they bicker and connect together. The supporting cast is also solid, with Atkinson chewing the scenery as the eccentric owner and Isla Fisher having a cute romantic chemistry as a love interest for Shaggy.
If you’re a fan of Scooby-Doo, then you’ll feel like you’re watching the old show. And if you’re like me and never caught on, you’ll at least appreciate it. While it hits the familiar beats and can feel predictable, the simplicity works in its favor. And with the chemistry the characters have between each other, it feels like you’re on some bizarre road trip with your best friends.
Watching this movie, I could see some of the elements of James Gunn that felt reminiscent to what we’d get in Guardians of the Galaxy. You have a band of misfits who are at each other’s throats and internal squabbles, but when it comes down to it, they come together, with their strengths complementing each other. It also has some of the same self-aware feeling in some scenes when they point out the tropes of your average Scooby-Doo episode that feels reminiscent of Star Lord’s pop culture references.
I had fun with this movie when I was a kid, and it did not disappoint upon my return to it. The cast is amazing, the story is fun, and it not only feels like a Scooby-Doo episode, but also like a precursor to Guardians of the Galaxy. So if you haven’t see this addition to Gunn’s filmography, check it out.