Why Scooby-Doo’s Live-Action Movie Succeeded Where Others Failed: A Word Vomit


Zya Chow

Zya Chow with rollerskates, palm tree and flag pole in the background

Zya Chow, Editor

The iconic ‘70s show has had many spin-offs. And it’s no surprise that they made a live-action version. 

I mean, it was bound to happen sooner or later. That’s what seems to happen with popular books and animated television shows. Take the Flintstones, Tom and Jerry, Peter Rabbit, heck, even Garfield. However, none have dared to go where the Scooby-Doo movie that was released in 2002 went. Both movies, (Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed) are pretty much the peak of live-action adaptations. Scooby-Doo is a cartoon animated series following four teens and a dog as they figure out mysteries and unmask the bad guy. It originally started in 1969 with their first series, ‘Scooby-Doo Where Are You!’, and later went on to release around nine total series and movies. They became one of the most famous and influential characters in the ’70s and ’80s. Almost all episodes had the same rinse and repeat formula, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby would set out and stumble upon a mystery. They would struggle for most of the episode before finally unmasking the bad guy towards the end. The bad guy mutters their famous line, “And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”. It was a classic. So that’s why people kinda freaked out when producers announced that they were coming out with a live-action version. Live-action movies are known to either be pretty decent or ruin the whole franchise completely. So this was definitely a gutsy move. 

The live-action Scooby-Doo movies actually did many different things right. For one, they had accurate character traits and even expanded upon these 2-D characters, making them expressive and human instead of robotic and fake. (Cough, Lion King, cough) They expanded upon their personalities to further plot points and honestly, it’s really impressive. Take Daphne for example. Her role in the animated series is typically to portray the ‘damsel in distress’ role. But the films expand upon that and reveal that she’s tired of playing that role. The main thing that I love about her character in these films is that she becomes a heroine, but she doesn’t lose any of her femininity. She keeps her keen sense of fashion, and her somewhat ditzy personality. But now, she can fight back as well. If you’ll remember, one of the main conflicts in the movie is when the Mystery Teens split up. In the animated series, the teens last only half a day before making up and seemingly have no reason for splitting up. But the movie actually expands upon this. Velma is fed up with Fred (the leader of the group) stealing all of her credit and all of her ideas. She’s the typically nerdy character with large glasses and an oversized turtleneck. She believes that she deserves the credit as well because she rightfully created the plan to defeat the bad guys. But she doesn’t get any recognition for it. That’s why she quits first. Daphne follows suit. Fred quits because he can’t handle trying to get Velma and Daphne back on the team together, and in the end, Shaggy and Scooby remain. The pair stick together, hoping that one day they’ll reunite. The Scooby-Doo live-action movie develops their characters instead of entirely basing it off their animated series. I mean, even Fred got a personality makeover, and that man is shallow-shallow. 

Their casting choices really set this movie apart from other live-action films. Instead of picking the biggest names in Hollywood to generate more attention (the Mario movie), they genuinely took time and effort into finding the best actors to portray these difficult characters. I mean, they did a great job with casting Shaggy, Mathew Lillard was practically born for this role. These actors took their characters in ways that even the director didn’t even imagine to take them in. Sure occasionally some acting was a little, ‘off’, but overall, excellent choices. 

You may be wondering, why are you talking about a movie that was made almost twenty years ago? Because with the recent resurgence of live-action movies, different franchises have pretty much been slaughtered. (Take Mulan as an example, they removed Mushu and literally all of the songs because it wasn’t ‘realistic’. It’s a Disney movie. It’s not supposed to be realistic.) Either the adaptations take things too seriously and make it needlessly dark, I’m looking at you Riverdale, or they completely take whatever plot that the movie was in and pretty much copy and paste with just CGI. Cough, cough, Lion King. The Scooby-Doo movie does none of these things. That’s why both live-action Scooby-Doo movies are the absolute best live-action movies ever, and other such movies should follow suit.