Scooby Doo is the computer animated king of the virtual box office.
His new movie Scoob! Is hot on the heels of the recent success of Trolls: World Tour.
It rose to number one in just one day.
Quite an accomplishment for the 50-year-old canine companion of Shaggy Rogers.
Well, he may not be 50, certainly not in dog years, but he has been around for five decades and his loyal fans have been sitting up and begging for his triumphant return.
Yes, there was that live action Scooby-Doo back in 2002 starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Isla Fisher and Rowan Atkinson.
But it also featured a computer-animated Scooby-Doo.
Some things never change.
Like what to do with a talking dog cartoon character from a cult kids’ TV show from The Sixties.
You just apply the latest digital animation technology and trot him out again.
So he’s back.
And everything is back to being a cartoon again -- high-budget star-studded cartoon, this time featuring the famous voices of Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Ken Jeong and Tracy Morgan, just to name a few.
Nostalgia is the key here. And as it turns out, nostalgia not just for Scooby and his friends but for a half-century of pop culture as well.
There are references to TV shows and movies. A lot of TV shows and movies.
I can’t help but notice the trend in Hollywood to “borrow” elements from other movies from time to time.
Sometimes it’s a sincere homage. Other times, it’s flat out plagiarism.
The studios pass it off as a wink to the audience and a nod to the source material.
Scoob! Is being touted as an origin story.
Origin stories have certainly spawned a spate of super-hero prequels in recent memory.
Why not the back story of a beloved dog?
In Scoob! we see how Scooby Doo and Shaggy met on Venice Beach one day, and how they quickly stumbled upon the rest of the gang on a Halloween Trick or Treat night whereupon they debunked their first bogus ghost in a scary haunted house.
From there, it’s a pretty madcap ride thrill ride and a story with so many borrowed elements that I thought I’d try to list some of them in order to demonstrate just how heavily derivative this movie is.
Let’s start with the inclusion of Simon Cowell as one of the characters in the movie (American Idol).
There’s a parody of Lady Gaga’s song “Shallow” (A Star is Born).
A character utters the line “No fries for you!” (Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi”).
Bowling pins in a bowling alley turn into destructive robots (Transformers).
The line “Good-bye old Buddy, I never saw Paris” (referencing “We’ll always have Paris” from Casablanca or “F*** Paris!” from Love Story, take your pick).
The addition of Falcon Fury and Dick Dastardly, Hanna-Barbera creations added to the Scoob! mix of characters (a super hero mash up right out of The Avengers or The Justice League).
The futuristic, bizarre interior of a space ship (the weird headquarters of Men In Black).
A cute robot with a transplanted dust buster head who looks like escaped from any number of Pixar films.
The villain’s quest for three magical skulls (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).
The amusement park setting where the Ferris wheel becomes dislodged and rolls away with passengers aboard (1941).
The Fun House hall of mirrors sequence (there are dozens of references here, but let’s cite The Man with the Golden Gun or Us as just two quick examples).
A “let me show you your destiny” line from the villain (Star Wars).
An overhead shot of a character falling thousands of feet to the ground (a recurring Warner Brothers cartoons Road Runner gag).
A cute sneezing robot, the same one with the Dust Buster head (Sneezy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs).
A thrilling high speed chase involving two spaceships (pick your favorite Star Wars movie).
Characters jumping through a portal (Stargate or Doctor Strange).
An encounter with dinosaurs (Jurassic Park).
Giant carnivorous Venus Fly Trap plants (Little Shop of Horrors).
A frightening three-headed dog (Harry Potter).
The Dick Dastardly character (Snidely Whiplash from the Rock and Bullwinkle TV series or the Jack Lemon villain character in Around the World in 80 Days).
The hubcap from the The Mystery Machine that becomes a shield (Captain America).
The line at the end “It’s time to return to your home” (The Wizard of Oz).
I may have missed a few references here, but they are the real origins of this origin story screenplay. You might have fun spotting them.
Scoob! wasn’t as flat-out entertaining as The Incredibles movies or the Despicable Me movies.
Neither depended on earlier material from a cheesy fun 1960s cartoon.
But that didn’t get in the way of Scoob! becoming an instant success in this alternate entertainment reality of the Corona Virus Pandemic.
We have become a collective captive audience starving for escapism and seeking it out via streaming services.
During these times, it will be a guaranteed hit for everyone who loved the original cartoon series and their grandchildren.