Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SCOOB!

Viewing SCOOB! at home was very bittersweet as I pressed play to watch my $24.99 BOUGHT copy of the film and not the dumb $19.99 RENT option. This movie was supposed to arrive in theaters this weekend, before COVID-19 raped all of our lives, Shawshank style. This would’ve been a movie I’d have taken my young son to, as he had expressed interest in this new Mystery Machine gang outing, having seen some of the old cartoon and yelling “Scooby!” whenever the clever talking canine appeared on-screen, and also briefly seeing some of the marketing online, on television, and even the teaser trailer to the new film when we saw Spies In Disguise, his last movie in a theater. I have to say though, not having to buy the $10 each movie tickets for the three of us, and then eventually buy the movie anyway when it would’ve normally came out on digital three months later, and instead just paying one upfront price now & getting to watch it in the comfort of your own home was…kinda nice. No asshole teens on their phones, none of that crinkling of movie snacks, and no chatty Kathy’s (or is it Karen’s now?). So the bitter part was not being able to go to the theaters but the sweet part was watching it together as a family at home when it was supposed to come out anyway, right? Well…the latter part is true. I’m actually glad we didn’t spend tons of money at our local multiplex because the bitter part of all this is that SCOOB! really wasn’t that great.

Say what you want to about the two critically and audience panned live action theatrical Scooby-Doo movies that were written by none other than James Gunn (yes, you read that right), but at least they stuck to the core idea of the gang solving one central mystery. And even though it broke the old television series rules of that “anything supernatural ended up having a natural explanation” to it, narrative wise it kept it’s focus completely on Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma, and it never strayed. Plus, a screenplay that had the balls to make Scrappy-Doo the ultimate bad guy in the first film has to be given some kind of bold credit. The main problem with this new Scoob! movie is that it isn’t so much of a Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine gang solo adventure than it is a Hanna-Barbera Universe Avengers film. It’s like if the DCEU started off with Justice League and not Man of Steel or the MCU with Avengers and not Iron Man 1. It doesn’t work & feels bloated here. There are a shit ton of other Hanna-Barbera characters that make either quick cameos, or are wayyy too much in the story, taking the focus off our core gang. This whole thing…just too many characters. I have a feeling that in the coming weeks this film is going to be given alternate titles to make fun of it, but the first that comes to mind is either: Hanna-Barbera Civil War or Scooby-Doo: Hanna-Barbera War. With the DCEU almost stumbling over itself right out of the gate, and now this misfire (I’ll give it credit for being better than the live action films at least), there is now enough factual evidence to prove that Warner Bros. has no fucking clue what to do with its intellectual properties.

The synopsis of the films is as follows, taken from “Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.” And there in lies the problem. The movie tries to add some convoluted mythology to Scooby-Doo’s ancestral origins, and none of it coherently worked for me. The movie has no central mystery to it, the gang isn’t trying to uncover an answer to a problem, or a haunting, or a crime, etc.. If you start to watch this, and wonder within the first 20 minutes what the fuck I’m talking about, that it seems like the same Scooby-Doo you knew from your childhood, you are right. It is. The first 20 minutes of this film are absolutely fantastic. It completely goes off the rails right then afterwards when it turns into a superhero film with crazy superhero film like action and explosions and shit when Blue Falcon & Dynomutt show up and pits all of them against Dick Distardly. If those names sounds familiar, it is because they are Hanna-Barbera characters that had their own shows and who I think didn’t need to be in this film at all. I have mostly tried to stay away from the marketing as I didn’t want to be spoiled by anything. But the marketing at the beginning I did see, was a giant misdirection. The teaser trailer made it seem like it was going to be the younger adventures of the Mystery Machine gang, but then later marketing showed that the film does feature them as adults and features voice talents of famous adult actors and actresses. That’s when I thought the film would’ve been a half and half thing. The first half brings up a mystery they weren’t able to solve as kids but get to finish as adults (the route the film should’ve taken). And that is when the final theatrical poster was released (before COVID-19), with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt on it and that is when I thought, “ohhhh noooooooo, I really hope they aren’t going to do what I think they are going to do.” They did.

Here’s the thing, my kid, and your kids, are probably going to love it, so you in turn might love it as well. And that is exactly why I watched this first without Grayson by my side, so that my opinion wouldn’t be biased based on his joyous face throughout the 93 minute run time. To be fair, the film has a good message about togetherness and friendship, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, and even though I would’ve rather had voice actors that while not the original people, have been doing other things as the characters for years, Zac Efron, Will Forte, Amanda Seyfried, & Gina Rodriguez do an adequate job, and Mark Wahlberg even steals the show as Blue Falcon. But plot, narrative, adventure, story-wise, what have you, the film is severely lacking. Oh, and early 2000s called, they want their Simon Cowell/American Idol references back. The Scooby-Doo original cartoon series was a sort of grounded detective-mystery series first, a slapstick hijinks movie second and an adventure series a distant third. There is no mystery here, it isn’t grounded at all, the hijinks are set to overload and it’s all covered as an outlandish adventure I didn’t really care for. And that’s because there were too many characters. That made it too stuffed which in turn made it too convoluted. Keep it simple, stupid. It should’ve been a cool mystery solo adventure with tiny hints that other Hanna-Barbera characters could eventually join the party down the road and then some solo films of those characters before all of them team up in the ultimate universe movie. But no, it’s a Hanna-Barbera Universe movie just trying to trick you by wearing a Scooby-Doo movie skin. And they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for the over ambitious, meddling script.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL (Netflix)

I don’t really know what to say about this movie other than that when actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg were on a roll, they were on a roll. They had a fantastic little true story action trilogy together with Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriot’s Day. All three filmed with precision, clarity, and accuracy. But now with Netflix’s new original film SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL and 2018’s Mile 22, they are officially in a major downward slump, and the only question is, are they going to make a third film together to cap off this mediocre trilogy or maybe they’ll start to get the hint and look for other projects with different people for a change? The real problem with this movie is that it’s misfire is with it’s execution of what tone it wants the film to have, combined with too many predictable cliched story elements for it to make sense why this script was even greenlit to be made. Is it a actioner? Eh, I would have to say it’s probably Peter Berg’s worst directed film (not worst movie, that goes to Very Bad Things, but at least that movie had a unique style to it that can’t be denied). He’s on autopilot here, with action so sparse, cheap and staged poorly that the movie turns into a horribly edited shaky cam of a Frankenstein monster which is even more jarring when compared to the other scenes where characters just talk and they use the usual steady, smooth cam dolly movements. This isn’t a giant Netflix misfire like the recent The Last Thing He Wanted, but it’s definitely not worth any of your valuable time.

This Spenser Confidential is apparently loosely based on Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, which itself was turned into a television series back in the 80s. This whole film feels cheap to the point where it maybe should’ve been turned into a limited series on HBO or Showtime. Maybe bring in some writers to make the whole story more complex. Here? Not so complex. I knew who was the secret bad guy right when I saw them, and I figured the whole thing had to do with drugs, money, and possibly a venture such as a Casino to launder that money into and make even more money. It was all so very simple to figure out, that I yawned almost every couple of minutes when all these developments revealed themselves. Mark Wahlberg plays a cop named Spenser who is sent to prison for five years for beating the shit out of his boss when he suspects his boss of being a dirty cop after trying to bury a murder investigation and also sees that he beats his wife. After five years he is out, and after a little time in sort of a halfway home time situation living with Alan Arkin and Winston Duke, he’s going to move to start his new life. Problem is, he still has that solving corruption itch he has to scratch, especially when his boss ends up brutally murdered and another cop (who apparently committed “suicide” after the crime) is to blame, one that Spenser remembered was legit and kind. Combined with having to deal with an obsessive ex-girlfriend that can’t make up her mind whether she wants him completely out of her life or just to keep fucking his brains out, he has to figure everything out before he moves, and hopefully leave with him and his friends life in the process.

And as I said earlier, the problem with the movie is with tone. The movie tries too hard to mix too many genres together. It wants to be a buddy comedy, but there isn’t enough of Winston Duke in the entire film to warrant that. It wants to be taken as a serious drama as some point with a really awkward scene of a woman finding her husband dead in a car with some one shot dolly pull back. It wants to be taken as an action movie, but there are few action scenes and they are shot shaky cam horribly. It was to be taken as a mystery/thriller, but has no mystery (because everything is predictable), and it has no thrills. I didn’t laugh once. And when an extended cameo from Post Malone is THE BEST ACTING THE MOVIE HAS TO OFFER…you can chalk it up to something being wrong. And don’t even get me started on actress Iliza Sclesinger, who literally gives the worst performance of the year so far, with a Boston accent so fucking over the top and fake you’ll be plugging your fingers in your eyes so you don’t have to fucking hear it anymore. And Mark Wahlberg, he’s coasting in this film like he does in most, the only performance where it seemed like he actually tried was Instant Family in 2018, and before that maybe not even The Departed in 2007. He’s has the range of Scwharzenegger and Stallone, always the muscle, never the award winner.

Yeah a Netflix blunder for sure. And if you are a constant reader of my reviews, don’t worry, I won’t go into the whole “Netflix has much more blunders than winners” schpeil all over again. You’ve probably all figured it out yourselves. This all felt like a really low rent made for television movie, where you wouldn’t find the likes of Mark Wahlberg ever touching this thing. It all screams a giant Netflix paycheck, with Whalberg being able to be directed by a friend again, who he knows can coast through this production with his eyes closed. What happened to trying? What happened to actually giving a shit? I mean do all these screenwriters have some sort of time crunch where this is the best that they can come up with or are they smoking weed until an hour before deadline? It sometimes just doesn’t make any fucking sense. I hardly saw this film marketed, but you would think they could’ve titled the film Spenser For Hire to get older fans of the novels and TV series amped up to watch this, but it was just dumped on Netflix this weekend, not a care in the world, and I see that a trailer had only debuted a month ago. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…wonder why? Doesn’t take a detective to figure it out…confidentially yet unconfidentially mediocre.