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Ruh-roh. Setting aside the obvious questions regarding why anyone in their right mind thought a live-action "Scooby-Doo" movie was a good idea in the first place, the truth is that 2002's Scooby-Doo isn't really as terrible as most critics made it out to be. Oh, it's certainly a bad movie, there's no doubt there. But considering how many worse movies have been released in recent memory, Scooby-Doo hardly deserves the intense drubbing it received. Among its charms are Matthew Lillard, who not only does an eerily spot-on Shaggy but manages to make the character funnier and more interesting than the cartoon version ever was. And Linda Cardellini makes Velma the sex symbol she was always meant to be — funny, brainy, and boy does she fill out that sweater. On the other hand, in descending order of badness, there's a lifeless Freddie Prinze, Jr. playing the vain, vapid Freddy; a seemingly bored Sarah Michelle Gellar as resident babe Daphne (unfortunately, putting the icy Gellar next to Cardellini inspires one to wonder why Daphne was ever considered the "hot one"); and a CGI Scooby-Doo who's so hideous to look at and unfunny that almost every scene in which he appears is an annoyance to watch. It's to Lillard's considerable credit that his scenes with the digi-pooch are the only moments in which Scooby has any charm at all — and Lillard was either interacting with a head on a stick or a green screen when he did his stuff. The "plot" (which seems less a fully realized story than a hastily jury-rigged device with which to maneuver the characters onto the screen) involves the retired Mystery, Inc. crew being reunited to solve a mystery at an amusement park called Spooky Island. The utterly improbable — but deliciously goofy, art direction-wise — theme park is a popular spring break destination, and the park's owner (an under-used Rowan Atkinson) is concerned that his college-age customers all seem to be turning into mindless zombies. The Scooby gang swings into action, quickly discovering that the kids are being taken over by some sort of demony, alien monsters and... well, from that point on it's all about watching the pretty pictures and laughing at the occasionally clever dialogue, because it's really completely incomprehensible otherwise. Kids who love the old ink-and-paint "Scooby-Doo" will probably enjoy the film, as it offers all of the elements of the cartoon without any pesky adult contrivances like plotting or intelligence. Adults who remember how truly lame the original cartoon was will undoubtedly find Scooby-Doo a waste of time, and would be better off scaring up a copy of 1998's animated Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, which offers far more entertainment than either the original Saturday morning schlock or this ill-advised movie. Warner's DVD release of Scooby-Doo is available in either anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) or full-frame editions. Features are identical, and include two commentary tracks (one by the actors, another by director Raja Gosnell); four behind-the-scenes featurettes; a music video for Outkast's "Land of a Million Drums" (which is pretty fun, actually); a trivia "arcade game" that rewards five correct answers with an Easter egg; deleted scenes; and DVD-ROM content. Snap-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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