Scooby-Doo 2
Monsters Unleashed

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze JR, Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini
Warner Home Video
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: PG
Available 23 August 2004

Coolsville is opening a museum largely dedicated to the phoney ghosts exposed by the Mystery Inc team. But real ghosts start to emerge, our heroes are disgraced and there's a scene with Velma in a red leather jump suit...

OK, it didn't take long for the obvious gag to emerge: wouldn't Scooby-Doo Doo have been a better title for this sequel than one using the traditional numerical format? Well, so help me, but I actually preferred the new movie.

You can waste an awful lot of words on a film like this. In essence, it's a well-enough mounted 'product' from the Hollywood machine. Much as the original cartoon was itself a result of the tighter economics and content demands that TV applied to animation. Remember, many animation purists believe that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera have a lot to answer for. This at least has some top-dollar sets and SFX.

If Scooby-Doo 2 is infinitely better than the original, it's partly because the main players are much more settled in their roles. Lillard's uncanny take on Shaggy aside, you felt that the other three Mystery Inc performers spent SD1 giving excessively self-conscious performances: "Hey, look, I'm a cool actor doing this dumb movie, so I'm gonna be post-modern about it - you dig."

This time around Prinze's Freddie, Gellar's Daphne and Cardellini's Velma offer a lot more honest (let's not use words like 'realistic' here), and more affectionate takes on their 2D inspirations.

Returning director Gosnell and scriptwriter James Gunn also serve up something a lot closer in feel to the original: creepy settings, lashings of suspects and red herrings, literally 'monstrous' nods to the original series, some great slapstick and a satisfyingly daft denouement.

And they've topped that off by luring some excellent comic actors into supporting roles, including Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein), Seth Green (another Buffy alumnus), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and Alicia Silverstone (Clueless). They know the job; they do it well.

As for Lillard? He made the first movie tolerable; now he's got even better. It's not just that he visually defines Shaggy in human form, but also that, with usually nothing more to play off than the CGI Scoobster, his performance and timing are absolutely spot-on. Sure, it's perhaps a technical rather than an artistic point but the film still wouldn't work without his input.

Some of the po-mo persists, so do the fart jokes, and Scooby's eyeballs are still extremely scary, but, again, even the original slapped on the innuendo. Plenty of 11 year-olds with older siblings discovered the word 'stoner' and its true meaning courtesy of Shaggy. Well, this one did - but the main point is that SD2 has a much stronger link with its spiritual predecessor than it's been given credit for.

For those of us 18 and above, it's a mindless nostalgia trip with quite a few laugh-out-loud, goofy gags (more, indeed, than many much better-reviewed comedies). And it works a treat for kids too - my own 7 year-old suggested a "gazillions" out of 10 rating. Er, maybe not. This is really just cinematic Ronseal, but, for the converted, it's still worth a 7.

Paul Dempsey

Buy this item online
We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal!
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£12.99 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.