Scooby-Doo has never gotten the respect it deserves. The animated TV show is a cultural touchstone that gets dismissed because every episode ends the same way and there’s a laugh track for some reason. Even worse, the live-action movies, which hit theaters in the early 2000s, are pretty much viewed as trash, but I’m here to tell you that they deserve a closer look.
Now that Netflix is bringing both the original 2002 film (30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (22 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) to its streaming platform, these films may finally get a well-deserved second chance.
First of all, let’s talk about the all-star cast. You’ve got Freddy Prinze Jr., who was pretty much born to play the perfectly coiffed alpha male that is Fred, alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar channeling her inner Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Daphne. Throw in Linda Cardellini as Velma, along with Rowan Atkinson and Isla Fisher as original characters, and you’ve got a pretty incredible lineup. In 2002, it didn’t get much better than that.
The plot of Scooby-Doo is also pretty great. The movie does a fun job of bringing those 2-dimensional characters to life by setting the story several years after the Mystery Inc. gang breaks up. When they’re finally brought back together to investigate a mysterious island in the midst of a spring break-style celebration, it gives each character the chance the subvert your expectations. For example, Daphne is a lot less helpless after mastering martial arts in her time away from the group.
The movie also subverts another classic Scooby-Doo trope: the face behind the monster mask. In the 2002 film, it turns out the monsters are actually real, which sets up an interesting new dynamic as the group is forced to take on an actual supernatural enemy. (Sorry for the 16-year-old spoiler but this reveal happens pretty early on.)
Finally, Scooby-Doo wraps things up with a surprise twist that brings back a classic character from the original animated series. I won’t ruin the ending for you if you haven’t seen it. Just trust me when I say that it’s well worth your time (86 minutes of it to be exact).
Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2 will both be streaming on Netflix starting on July 1, 2018.