Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster certainly is not a very good film. The acting is subpar at best, the CGI horrid and the main freakin’ title character isn’t even in various and important scenes. While it’s not as bad as I had expected because I did manage to chuckle a couple of times and Hayley Kiyoko makes for a hot Velma that anyone can fall in love with, it’s still not wasting your time on either.
Genre(s): Comedy, Mystery
Warner Premiere | PG – 82 min. – $35.99 | March 1, 2011
Directed by: Brian Levant
Writer(s): Steven Altiere & Daniel Altiere (written by)
Cast: Robbie Amell, Hayley Kiyoko, Kate Melton, Nick Palatas
Features: Featurettes, Outtakes, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
There are a few things one cannot deny will live on throughout all of time: death, taxes and Scooby-Doo and not necessarily in that order as I contend Scooby and his gang might even be with us in the afterlife… The Scooby Gang has been piecing together clues and solving mysteries (of both the human and supernatural kind) for more than 40 years beginning with “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” and spawning additional TV animated series ranging from “Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo” in 1979, “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo” in ’85, “What’s New, Scooby-Doo?” in 2005 and most recently, “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”. The character also brought forth numerous TV movies and direct-to-video releases as well as 4 live action movies, two released theatrically, the other two making their debuts on television and later on home video.
The latest one, with apparently a third on its way this year, is Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, a sequel to Scooby-Doo!: The Mystery Begins, where we take the Scooby Gang back to high school. In this one, the gang – Fred (ROBBIE AMELL), Daphne (KATE MELTON), Velma (HAYLEY KIYOKO) and Shaggy (NICK PALATAS) – get a summer job working for Daphne’s Uncle Thorny (TED MCGINLEY) at his country club to pay off the damage they did to a barn in one of their cases.
So it doesn’t take too long for something to go awry. After some classic “Scooby-Doo” mischief and laugh-out-loud jokes minus the laughter including Shaggy falling head over heels in love with Velma and a running joke where Scooby has taken up photography, they attend a party for the country club guests when the Lake Monster (i.e. mutated frog) – a legendary creature created by a witch back in the 1700s – crashes the event scaring everyone away and putting the country club in potential financial ruin. So, with a mystery afoot, the Scooby Gang spring into action to find the creature, save Thorny’s country club and keep their summer jobs to pay off their debt; might just be me, but they seemed to be more motivated by the latter…
As a kid I watched whatever “Scooby-Doo” animated incarnation there was on a Saturday morning and while some of those don’t hold up all too well at an older age, they do contain some nostalgic value. Even the latest animated series, “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”, which I recently reviewed, actually wasn’t all that bad filled with humor for kids and adults alike. And while the theatrically released live action weren’t all that great, they at least had more laughs than these recent made-for-TV live action adaptations.
Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster has a few things going against it. First and foremost, outside of perhaps Hayley Kiyoko playing a sexier 21st century version of Velma, none of the others seem to fit the parts all too well. I don’t mind so much that Fred doesn’t have beach blonde hair because frankly that looked quite odd so why force it, but the others aren’t really that funny and none are more obvious than Nick Palatas as Shaggy. I guess to save his vocal chords he gives a half-hearted Shaggy screech which was something, for everything that was wrong with the theatrical movies, the casting of Matthew Lillard got right (so much that he’s now the full-time voice of Shaggy in the animated series and movies).
But even with a cast that doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of comedic timing, who at least seemed to be having a good time with the material, the writing is also suspect. Daniel and Steven Altiere were the hired guns who also were the team behind Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins and a couple other gems such as Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts and the upcoming sure-fire holiday classic, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure. I will give them credit that they are fans of Scooby-Doo throwing in references to the old show but problem is, none of the jokes landed and the one running joke – Scooby’s new hobby of photography – was just dumb and every time it’s brought up only reminded you of that fact.
One other issue I had, thanks in large part to budgetary constraints, is the CGI. I know, you can’t make a believable mutated frog so on that front I can forgive the film I’d be hard pressed to think that Peter Jackson could’ve made all that much better but my beef is with Scooby. Again, CGI Scooby is going to be goofy. It was with the higher budgets in the theatrical releases and it’s even goofier this go around, but at the same time, it becomes apparent that the filmmakers needed to save money when the Scooby Gang go hunting for clues around a creepy lighthouse and for some unknown reason, Scooby is missing from the scene! This happens a few times as well, but that was the most glaring one that caught my eye.
Although Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster isn’t the turd-fest I had expected going in, it’s still not a very good movie. One thing it does show is that these characters have longevity and through each new incarnation be it live action or animated, it shows no signs of stopping for better or worse… which these newer live action movies are, though it doesn’t touch the utterly awful and thankfully short-lived “Shaggy & Scooby: Get a Clue”.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a glossy, reflective slip cover. Also, the front cover proclaims that this is an “Extended Edition” but I suspect – having never seen this when it aired – that it was just the end sequence song and dance and doesn’t add anything to the story.
Scooby-Doo: Rock, Rap and Rollerskates (8:15) is a behind the scenes look at the dancing and singing used at the end of the film.
Jeepers! Jinkies! Zoinks! A Tribute to the Classic Gags of Scooby-Doo! (8:23) – This featurette takes a look at scenes – and lines – that pay tribute to the animated series.
Ruh-roh! Gag Reel (5:16) is your typical footage of line flubs and on-site shenanigans.
There is also trailers “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”, Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare and Scooby-Doo! And the Spooky Swamp and previews that play on disc load for Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur Original Movie and Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown.
VIDEO – 3.25/5
Curse of the Lake Monster is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and while it doesn’t look too bad, I did notice a good amount pixilation throughout. Colors are also a tad muted but that is expected on a made-for-TV movie.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is standard grade audio providing clear dialogue through the center channel and various other sounds (creatures, screams, etc) from the other channels. It’s not an entirely effective track but good enough.
OVERALL – 2/5
Overall, Scooby-Doo: Curse of the Lake Monster certainly is not a very good film. The acting is subpar at best, the CGI horrid and the main freakin’ title character isn’t even in various and important scenes. While it’s not as bad as I had expected because I did manage to chuckle a couple of times and Hayley Kiyoko makes for a hot Velma that anyone can fall in love with, it’s still not wasting your time on either. If, however, you are a fan of the characters and absolutely have to, then perhaps a rental is in order, otherwise this is a complete skip.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman