2002 comedy mystery adventure film directed by Raja Gosnell
Scooby-Doo (also known as Scooby-Doo: The Movie) is a 2002 American-Australian live-action/computer-animated supernatural adventure comedy mystery film based on the long-running Hanna-Barbera animated television franchise of the same name. The first installment in the Scooby-Doo live-action film series, the film was directed by Raja Gosnell from a screenplay by James Gunn, and stars Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Isla Fisher and Rowan Atkinson. The plot revolves around Mystery Incorporated, a group of four young adults and a talking dog who solve mysteries, who reunite after a two-year disbandment to investigate a mystery at a popular horror-themed tropical island resort.
Filming took place in and around Queensland, Australia on a budget of $84 million. The film was released on June 14, 2002, and despite negative reviews, grossed $275 million worldwide. Reggae artist Shaggy and rock group MxPx performed different versions of the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! theme song. The Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster, a ride based on the film, was built at Warner Bros. Movie World in Gold Coast, Australia in 2003. This is the last time William Hanna served as an executive producer before his death on March 22, 2001. A sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, was released on March 26, 2004.
The members of Mystery, Inc. solve the case of the Luna Ghost, but long-time friction among Fred Jones, an obnoxious glory hog, Daphne Blake, who is fed up with being kidnapped at every mystery, and Velma Dinkley, who is never credited for her skills and ideas, boils over and the gang breaks up, leaving Shaggy Rogers and his dog Scooby-Doo heartbroken and caring for the gang’s van, the Mystery Machine.
Two years later, Shaggy and Scooby are invited to solve a mystery on Spooky Island, a horror-themed tropical resort owned by Emile Mondavarious. At the airport, they are reunited with the rest of Mystery, Inc. and learn that Fred has become a popular author, Velma works for NASA and Daphne has undertaken martial arts training to defend herself. Scooby and Shaggy attempt to get Mystery, Inc. back together, but the others refuse to work with each other.
On the flight, Shaggy meets and becomes attracted to a girl named Mary Jane, who also loves Scooby Snacks but is allergic to dogs. Upon arriving at the island, the gang meets Mondavarious, who claims the visiting tourists have been brainwashed. Velma attends a ritualistic performance hosted by N’Goo Tuana and his henchman, Zarkos, a famous luchador. N’Goo claims the island was once ruled by ancient demons that have been plotting their revenge ever since they were displaced by the resort.
After a misunderstanding with a local voodoo priest, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby venture into the resort’s ghost ride and meet Fred and Velma inside, where they split up to look for clues. Fred and Velma come across a school designed to educate inhuman creatures about human culture, while Daphne discovers a pyramid-shaped artifact called the Daemon Ritus. The gang flees, but the island’s demons attack, kidnapping Fred, Velma, Mondavarious and other tourists, while Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne and Mary Jane escape.
The next day, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby learn that the demons have possessed Fred, Velma and the other tourists. Zarkos captures Daphne and steals the Daemon Ritus before taking her to be possessed as well. Shaggy and Scooby encounter Mary Jane, but Scooby realizes she has been possessed as well. When he tells Shaggy, the two begin to argue, but are interrupted when Scooby falls through a trapdoor into an underground chamber. While searching for him, Shaggy discovers a vat of protoplasm containing the souls of those possessed. He frees his friends’ souls, but Daphne and Fred’s souls end up in each other’s bodies while Velma discovers that sunlight destroys the demons. Shaggy steals the Daemon Ritus, which randomly switches his, Velma, Fred and Daphne’s souls around until they all end up in their correct bodies. They come across the voodoo priest, who explains that the demons, led by Mondavarious, will rule the world for the next ten thousand years if a pure soul is offered as a sacrifice during their ritual. Shaggy realizes that the pure soul is Scooby, who unwittingly accepts to be the sacrifice. Fred, Daphne and Velma decide to put their differences behind them to help Shaggy save Scooby.
The gang plots to trap the demon cult, but the plan fails and only Daphne escapes capture. Mondavarious extracts Scooby’s soul using the Daemon Ritus, but Shaggy breaks free and pushes Mondavarious aside, causing Scooby’s soul to be released. When Fred and Velma confront the defeated Mondavarious, they discover that he is actually a robot controlled by Scooby’s estranged nephew Scrappy-Doo, who was abandoned by the gang years ago after his power-hungry nature got out of control. Using the absorbed souls of the tourists, Scrappy transforms into a monster and tries to kill the gang. Daphne is attacked and captured by Zarkos again, but defeats him by kicking him into the ritual chamber, where he knocks over the vat containing the souls of the tourists, thus setting them free. Their souls return to their bodies as Daphne releases a skull-shaped disco ball, which reflects sunlight to kill the demons. Shaggy rips the Daemon Ritus from Scrappy’s body to free the captured souls and finds the real Mondavarious imprisoned in a small underground cell, having been captured by Scrappy so he could pose as his double. Scrappy, N’Goo, Zarkos and their minions are arrested while the reunited gang promises to continue solving mysteries together.
During the credits, Scooby and Shaggy take advantage of the “all you can eat” stipulation they were promised and have lunch at the Spooky Island hotel. They both eat jars of hot chilli peppers and scream as smoke comes out of the hotel, ending the film.
Producer Charles Roven began developing a live-action treatment of Scooby-Doo in 1994. By the end of the decade, the combined popularity of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, along with the addition of the script and updated digital animation led Warner Bros. to fast track production of the film. In October 2000, the film was officially given the green light. Variety reported that Raja Gosnell had been hired to direct the film.
The movie references several pop-culture fads, particularly the scene in the Mystery Machine. Scooby has a Heinz Kickr’s Bottle, there are some mouths-with-eyes toys. A Jack of Spades, etc. 
The film was shot on location in and around Queensland, Australia. Production was started on February 12, 2001 at the Warner Bros. Movie World theme park, with over 400 cast and crew also taking over Tangalooma Island Resort for six weeks to film all the scenes set on Spooky Island. Production wrapped in June 2001. The film was originally set to have a much darker tone, essentially poking fun at the original series, much like The Brady Bunch Movie, and was set for a PG-13 rating. Shaggy was set to be a stoner, and there were many marijuana references.
Several rumors about these aspects in the original cartoon series were passed around by fans of the original and were to be incorporated into the live action film. In March 2001, one month into filming, the first official cast picture was released.
According to Gellar, after the cast had signed on there was a change, and the film became more family friendly, though some of the original adult jokes are still in the film. They are also included in deleted scenes on the home media releases.
Gellar also said her character and Cardellini’s shared an onscreen kiss that did not make the final film. “It wasn’t just, like, for fun,” she said, explaining it took place in the body-switching scene. “Initially in the soul-swapping scene Velma and Daphne couldn’t seem to get their souls back together in the woods. And so the way they found was to kiss and the souls went back into proper alignment.”
In 2017, the 15th anniversary of the release of the film, James Gunn, the screenwriter, revealed in a Facebook post that there was an R-rated cut of Scooby-Doo and that CGI was used to remove cleavage of the female cast members.
Actors Prinze Jr. and Gellar, who both previously worked in I Know What You Did Last Summer and portray Fred and Daphne, are romantically involved in both the film and reality. This film marks the first time in the franchise’s history where the characters are portrayed as a couple. The pair married shortly after the film was released. Prinze said of his character, “[He] always showed more arrogance than everyone else. So in the movie, I took the opportunity to make him as narcissistic and self-loving as possible.”
Jim Carrey was originally attached to play Shaggy, while Mike Myers also expressed interest in the role. The role was eventually given to Matthew Lillard, when asked about watching several cartoons before playing Shaggy, Lillard responded, “Everything I could get my hands on. If I ever have to see another episode of Scooby-Doo, it will be way too soon.” Lillard would continue voicing Shaggy in the rest of the Scooby-Doo media.[needs update]
Tim Curry, a lifelong Scooby-Doo fan, was offered the role of Mondavarious, but turned it down after learning the film would include Scrappy-Doo, a character he dislikes. (Curry had previously voiced for character Ben Ravencroft in the 1999 direct-to-video, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost.) In January 2001, it was reported that Rowan Atkinson was in negotiations to play the role.
Fisher grew up watching Scooby-Doo in Australia, and said that the “best part of making this movie was being part of an institution, something that has been in people’s childhoods and is something that means a lot to a lot of people.” Cardellini was also a fan of the Scooby-Doo series.
The film’s score was composed by David Newman. A soundtrack was released on June 4, 2002, by Atlantic Records. It peaked at number 24 on the Billboard 200 and 49 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Shaggy performs the theme song from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which was retitled “Shaggy, Where Are You?”.
A video game based upon the film was released for Game Boy Advance shortly before the film was released. The game is played in third-person point of view and has multiple puzzle games and mini-games. The game’s structure was similar to a board game. Metacritic rated it 64/100 based on five reviews, which they labeled as “mixed or average reviews”.
The film was released on VHS and DVD on October 11, 2002. The release included deleted scenes, among them an alternate opening animated in the style of the original television series. It was later released as a double feature with its sequel on Blu-ray on November 9, 2010.
Scooby-Doo debuted with $19.2 million on its opening day and $54.1 million over the weekend from 3,447 theaters, averaging about $15,711 per venue and ranking No. 1 at the box office. The film closed on October 31, 2002, with a final gross of $153 million in the United States and Canada. It made an additional $122 million in other territories, bringing the total worldwide gross to $275.7 million, making it the fifteenth most successful film worldwide of 2002. The film was released in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2002, and topped the country’s box office for the next two weekends, before being dethroned by Austin Powers in Goldmember.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 30% based on 145 reviews and an average rating of 4.37/10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Though Lillard is uncannily spot-on as Shaggy, Scooby-Doo is a tired live-action update, filled with lame jokes.” On Metacritic, the film has a score of 35 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one out of four stars, stating that the film “exists in a closed universe, and the rest of us are aliens. The Internet was invented so that you can find someone else’s review of Scooby-Doo. Start surfing.”Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, “Get out your pooper-scoopers. Doo happens June 14th, warn the ads for Scooby-Doo. And they say there’s no truth in Hollywood.” Chris Hewitt of Empire Magazine gave the film two out of five stars.
Robin Rauzi of the Los Angeles Times called the film “entertainment more disposable than Hanna-Barbera’s half-hour cartoons ever were.” Although Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel said that children who liked the animated version of Scooby-Doo will “probably like” the film, he urged parents to “know that the violence is a bit harder-edged than in the cartoon version”. He would later go on to say that adults who remember the cartoon version “may get caught up in what Scooby would call the ‘rostalgia'”, but said that “adults who do not fondly recall the Scooby-Doo cartoons are strongly advised to steer clear.”
Conversely, Hank Struever of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, stating that “You don’t want to love this, but you will. Although Scooby-Doo falls far short of becoming the Blazing Saddles of Generations X, Y and Z, it is hard to resist in its moronic charms.”
Gellar won Choice Movie Actress – Comedy at the Teen Choice Awards. Prinze was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) for Worst Supporting Actor, but he lost to Hayden Christensen for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. It was also nominated for another Razzie, Most Flatulent Teen-Targeted Movie, but lost against Jackass: The Movie.
Sequels and animated reboot
In 2009 and 2010, two telefilm prequels, Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins and Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, aired on Cartoon Network. A spin-off film, Daphne & Velma, was released on May 22, 2018, and an animated film, Scoob!, was released on May 15, 2020.
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