Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters
Cynthia Fuchs, 26 March 2004
Image is everything
In the sequel no one needs to
see, the Scooby Gang grapples with the stress of stardom. At film's
start, the Mystery Inc.-ers are emerging from a limo for a grand
exhibit opening at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum. Lit up like
movie stars, stepping onto a red carpet, thronged by Pat O'Brien and
fans too (a separate, clearly marked type for each member, like
they're in a boy band), they smile for cameras. One reporter,
Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone), pushes her way to Fred
(Freddie Prinze, Jr.). Asked for a comment, he grins broadly: "The
people of Coolsville are the best in the world!"
Right, and they apparently eat up
whatever pabulum is handed them, no matter how unimaginative and
uninteresting, dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers Fred being number one case
in point. As a critique of celebrity culture, this first scene in
Raja Gosnell's Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is obvious
and derivative. While he's accompanied by his girl in lavender,
Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), brainy chick Velma (Laura Cardellini),
Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby (voiced by Neil Fanning), Fred
is all too happy to be spokesperson.
The movie continues to press this
theme -- the illusory nature of fame, the treachery of media, the
sad truth that, as Daphne observes, "Image is everything" -- once
the kids get inside the museum, where they are asked more questions
and pressed to pose for more pictures. The exhibit at hand is
comprised of super-villainish costumes collected by the gang over
the course of their exploits, including the Pterodactyl Ghost and
Black Knight Ghost. Just as they're getting used to be adored by
their public, disaster strikes: the Evil Masked Figure swoops in and
steals a couple of costumes, leaving chaos in his wake. Worse, the
entire calamity is caught on camera.
Faster than you can say "10,000
Volt Ghost," the gang is vilified in the media and Fred's face is
all over tv screens calling the people of Coolsville names (Heather,
perversely ambitious and not a little mean, takes a quotation "out
of context"). The next time they step outside, a couple of little
boys riding bikes pause to call them "losers." Oh dear oh dear. Fans
are so fickle. And so the Scoobies have a double mission this time:
solve the theft mystery and salvage their reputations. Aiding them,
perhaps, is the Museum's curator, Patrick (Seth Green, essentially
playing Oz, once more), on whom Velma develops a serious crush (but,
you might object, she's obviously gay; then again, he's a little
girly, so maybe that's how the writers are working this out).
In order to provide enough material
for the film's 91-minute running time, the plot sidetracks long
enough for Daphne to dress up Velma for a date with Patrick. As the
boys wait below, Velma appears at the top of a stairway, squeezed
into a red pleather jumpsuit, with heels and bouffy wig, and without
glasses. She looks awful, not to mention desperately uncomfortable
(and Cardellini's cartoon voice is truly painful here). The ensuing
ride in the Mystery Machine hardly quells the tension, as the
double-daters (not including Scooby and Shaggy) arrive at the Museum
to find that every single monster costume has now been stolen.
Patrick makes a quick exit (so awkward that you might almost imagine
Green was rushing off to appear in another movie, as he's the only
one here with a career beyond the Scooby franchise, even if it is
made up of serial supporting parts).
Eventually the group comes to find
out that the unknown villain is stealing the costumes to transform
into corny, badly CGI-ed Ghostbusters-style monsters, by means of a
machine hidden in some "bad part of town," in a basement. It's not
much of a plot, but to its credit, it doesn't involve Scrappy Doo.
Sidelines involve Daphne playing Buffy (that is, martial-artsing the
monsters for a minute that can only make you yearn for Sunnydale)
and Scooby and Shaggy worrying that they're just tagalongs, not
carrying their own heroic weight (this even as Shaggy notes, by way
of credentials, "Creepy is my middle name").
Apparently meaning to assert their
usefulness, the two go undercover, Scooby in a pimpsuit and Afro wig
at a seedy bar, dancing to "We Wanna Thank You (The Things You Do)."
Annoying and unoriginal on its own, this bit also recalls the kids
becoming hiphop zombies in the first Scooby movie: blackness
continues to signify "otherness" in the Scooby world. (In this
context, it's honestly difficult to interpret the appearance of
Ruben Studdard during the closing credits, to sing "Shining Star.")
Eventually, Scooby and Shaggy do
discover the villain's lair (the villain who may or may not be Peter
Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, or someone else; everyone here looks a
little bereft of purpose), whereupon they are beset by gizmos and
ghosts. None of these appear to exist in the same space as Shaggy,
but then again, neither does Scooby: for all the reported money
spent on digital effects for the sequel, the results are shoddy.
During one traumatic episode, Shaggy and Scooby try on differently
gendered bodies: when both are most plainly faking it, they look
Freddie Prinze Jr.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Tim Blake Nelson
PG-13 - Parents
Some material may
for children under 13.