Mystery, Incorporated has been tooling around pop culture since 1969. They've been played semi-straight and as self-parodies, made it to the big screen, passed through every major comic company, and been subject to numerous unauthorized reinterpretations. It's difficult to do anything original with them. This 2019 film manages two fresh takes: it focuses on the girls in the gang, and it does Scooby-Doo without Scooby-Doo. Where are you, dog?

Wealthy, fortean Daphne Blake and brilliant, rational Velma Dinkley hit high school, where they encounter a spooky puzzle that may end their careers before they get a chance to ride in the Mystery Machine.

The acting from the leads shows potential. Sarah Gilman develops into a plausible live-action version of Velma—the snarkier Velma from the show's more recent incarnations. Sarah Jeffrey does a passable Daphne. Some of the banter between the leads plays as mildly funny. The visual design also works: an off-kilter world lit like a living cartoon. In addition, the film contains multiple positive themes: friendship matters, girls can be strong, online social networks can be dangerous, the corporate infiltration of schools should be met with caution, helicopter parents need to ground themselves, and living your life for popularity points is idiotic. With a different script, the film might have worked.

They didn't have a different script. This is silly, even by Scooby standards, and fails to do much entertaining. Most of the secondary actors deliver subpar performances, and the final revelations might set even kiddie-eyes rolling. The ten-and-under girls at whom this film appears to be aimed might be more tolerant. As for me, I think even children's entertainment, inspired by a long-running limited animation series that has experienced its share of low points, should try a little harder.

Director: Suzi Yoonessi
Writers: Kyle Mack & Caitlin Meares

300 words

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.