The real Scooby-Doo gang returns in Moon Monster Madness
The Scooby-Doo gang returns for an all-new mystery, ‘Moon Monster Madness,’ but is sending Scooby, Shaggy and friends into space such a good idea?
Being a child of the late 60s/early 70s, I am an old school Scooby-Doo fan. You couldn’t get me up early during the week to go to school, but you can bet I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to watch my cartoons. Scooby was always a favorite because it combined the wacky antics of Scooby, Shaggy and the gang with my other favorite things — ghosts and monsters, except not as scary as those old movies that I loved but scared me to death! Of course, the supernatural characters on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? were always some no-goodnik trying to get way with some crime that was always foiled by “those meddling kids.”
Scooby and the gang became entrenched in pop culture, spawning a variety of different series, a run of Scooby-Doo movies featuring animated guest stars like The Addams Family, Sonny & Cher, Phyllis Diller, The Three Stooges, The Harlem Globetrotters and many more. The idea of the “Scooby Gang” even carried over to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The character has been kept alive on Cartoon Network/Boomerang and through a series of direct-to-video movies. Our own Kim Tibbs reviewed last year’s Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery, which was released on DVD and Blu-ray. And now Scooby and the gang are back in Moon Monster Madness.
It’s usually never a good sign when a familiar character ends up going into space, an environment totally alien, literally, to the original concept (look at the alternately reviled/adored Jason X as an example). Take a character who spends most of the time solving earthbound mysteries and putting them on the moon to solve another mystery really stretches the concept, especially when the new city on the moon is basically just a stand-in for an earthly haunted house. But that’s what we have with Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness.
The basic plot has the Scooby gang winning a lottery to be the first civilians to fly with an egotistical Richard Branson type, Sly Baron, and a crew of professionals on a new spacecraft meant to usher in commercial space travel for the masses. Unfortunately, an alien starts to destroy the ship and they are forced to land on Baron’s moon base on the dark side of the moon (ZOINKS!), but the alien is not finished with them. Is the alien an advance scout for a possible invasion of earth … or is there something, or someone, else behind the attack?
Ridley Scott said that Alien was basically a haunted house movie in space, and Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness is just that. The moon base is simply a stand-in for the house and the alien is the typical ghost or monster that is trying to run the owners out. And if you know your Scooby-Doo lore, you will have to question whether the alien is even real especially with the red herrings of key characters always off screen during an alien attack. Could it be Sly Baron himself, or one of the other astronauts? You know those meddling kids will find out the truth.
The movie may not appeal to original Scooby fans, but a new generation not familiar with the old haunted house stories will most likely be dazzled by the sci-fi elements and animation. It should be noted, however, that very young children may be disturbed by some of the imagery, especially as the alien stalks Scooby and Shaggy, and during a sequence when each member of the group tells how they would avert an alien invasion. The animation goes very stylized at that point, with some videogame-style destruction and violence. The story also introduces a very intense rivalry between Daphne and Velma, and really paints Fred as a total doofus who never takes off his spacesuit or helmet, even inside the moon base!
What the movie does have going for it is the smooth, colorful animation (and it’s a shame Warner Bros. didn’t feel the need to release this one on Blu-ray) and the familiarity of the voice cast. Frank Welker returns as the voices of Fred (he originated the role back in 1969!) and Scooby, with Mindy Cohn doing a great approximation of the original Velma voice and Matthew Lillard reprising the role of Shaggy, which he did so well in the live-action movies. Guest voice talent includes Malcolm McDowell, Diedrich Bader and Mark Hamill.
The DVD also includes the short Space Travel Is Groovy hosted by Mindy Cohn. Cohn takes us behind the scenes at Space Camp to see how rockets are launched and space shuttles fly and land (although this is a bit dated now since the space shuttle program is no more). Everything is very simplified for the younger viewer, so adults may find the whole thing a bit tedious. But still, who doesn’t want to go to Space Camp?!
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness may be a good way to introduce a new generation to the simple joys of Scooby-Doo.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided a DVD to CliqueClack for review. The film is available on DVD and as a Digital HD download.