Zoinks! Judge Patrick Naugle has a drawer full of ascots.
Share a stage with the Mystery, Inc. gang!
"Join Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and the Mystery, Inc. crew as they head to Chicago for a talent show, some museum tours, and a whole lotta pizza! The windy city is home to the hit TV show Talent Star, in which songwriting duo Fred (Frank Welker, Transformers) and Daphne (Grey DeLisle, The PowerPuff Girls) are finalists with some high hopes. Not to be left out, Scooby and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, Scream) have a secret act in the works they're betting will take the contest by storm. Unluckily for them, the competition is frightful at this talent contest, with a history of horrors and a particularly vengeful phantom who has cursed the show's production. From costume changin' chases to collecting creepy clues, the show must go on, and with a natural talent like Scooby-Doo on the case, you can be sure that the laughs, thrills, and adventures are always in first place!"
Somehow, against all odds, Scooby-Doo and the gang at Mystery, Inc. have weathered the years—nay, decades—and their stories are still being told. The same can't be said for a lot of other 1960s and '70s cartoons, especially the ones made by animation studio Hanna-Barbara. Although there have been a lot of live action versions of classic cartoons (The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones), none of those shows have had the longevity of Scooby-Doo. Warner Bros. has consistently cranked out new Scooby-Doo movies over the past few decades, none of them seen by me. Would it be just like the old cartoon, or a cheaply made direct-to-DVD title?
Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright's plot and characters will come as no surprise to anyone who's seen an episode of the original series. All the basic components are in place: the Scooby-Doo gang heads out to a haunted setting, they get caught up in the shenanigans, and comedic hijinks ensue. The only difference is that instead of only twenty five minutes, the story is stretched out to a near hour and a half length.
The only holdover from the original show is Frank Welker as Fred, still retaining the same know-it-all inflection that made the character (and his ascot) memorable. Casey Kasem gave up the role of Shaggy years ago, and apparently the filmmakers liked Matthew Lillard so much in the role during the 2002 live action movie, he was kept on in the animated movies, and to his credit he does a good impersonation. The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn fits in well as nerdy Velma while a few B-list celebrities (Spawn's Vivica A. Fox, Ally McBeal's Peter MacNicol, game show host Wayne Brady) pop up in supporting roles that make the film slightly more interesting for adults who want to play the "is that so-and-so's voice?" game.
The plot in Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright is about as unoriginal as you can get. Clearly the story is just a rip-off of the classic The Phantom of the Opera, fused with overtones of American Idol and other reality based music shows. Frankly, I couldn't have cared less who the Phantom was; no points for guessing if he's 'unmasked' during the final moments of the movie. Although the cover of the Blu-ray makes the film look ghoulish, this will only be scary to wee little ones and those with the weakest of bladder control.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p HD widescreen, the transfer looks great even if the animation isn't top notch. This is a colorful, vibrant movie that kids will eat up as eye candy. The DTS-HD 5.1 Surround mix offers a fair amount of directional effects, including some pop music cues. There are also Dolby 2.0 Stereo tracks in French and Spanish, as well as English and French subtitles. Bonus features include a couple of vintage Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoons ("Never Ape an Ape Man" and "Don't Fool with a Phantom"), and DVD, digital, and UltraViolet copies of the film.
For children, Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright will probably be a lot of fun and somewhat thrilling; there are car chases, foot chases, and a lot of wacky adventures in between. Adults will find it to be a bit tedious, but if that surprises you, clearly you haven't spent much time around children's entertainment.
A paint-by-numbers animated adventure.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Vintage Cartoons
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