Scooby Doo
dir. Raja Gosnell
Opens Fri June 14 at various theaters.

Scooby Doo is insulting and excruciating for lots of reasons--Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, to name two--but the worst of it is the way an innocent cartoon has been defiled for no reason.

Scooby Doo, as you know, is about some teenagers who, along with their gigantic talking dog, solve mysteries. It's about camp and slapstick, right? Well, now they've taken poor, unassuming Scooby Doo and given it extreme MTV style, replete with hiphop regalia, bare midriffs, and a soundtrack by the likes of Outkast and Sugar Ray. Just the principle makes my stomach hurt.

The story is that the reunited Mystery Inc. gang has been recruited to investigate Spooky Island, a Halloween/ Mardi Gras theme park that's inhabited by demons who steal people's souls. They're commissioned by Rowan Atkinson, who poses as a concerned proprietor but is actually evil instead. He and his demons need a completely pure soul to sacrifice for some voodoo thing, so they lure the kids there to abduct Scooby. There's a midget and a Mexican lucha libre wrestler who go around assaulting the gang. Then everybody's at a beach party, and Fred and Daphne have this sexual undercurrent, Shaggy and Scooby have a fart contest, and Velma gets drunk with some dude. It's not even non sequitur in a funny way. It's cheap and desperate. There's no place for demonic possession and Busta Rhymes in a Hanna-Barbera production. It's a goddamned shame is what it is.

If the movie has any merit, it's the cast. It's always nice to see Rowan Atkinson with actual lines, and I'll admit that Matthew Lillard's right on the money as Shaggy and Linda Cardellini makes a fine Velma. However, all this is ruined by the script. It's hollow and useless to stay true to the original characters when you've deviated so far from the premise. A part of me thinks that maybe it was necessary to trick it out like this because kids today are too jaded to laugh at Shaggy and Scooby debunking Mister Withers' schemes or falling into a vat of chocolate at a haunted candy factory or whatever. But I just really hope not.