Hanna-Barbera/Warner Animation has released another fun animated film with Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright. The story does have a “been there, done that” feel but the writers throw a loop in to keep the mystery going until the very end. The humor actually works most of the time and the side story of the Fred/Daphne relationship keeps their story moving forward.
Genre(s): Comedy, Mystery
Warner Bros. | NR – 78 min. – $24.98 | August 20, 2013
Directed by: Victor Cook
Writer(s): Doug Langdale & Candie Langdale (story), Doug Langdale (screenplay)
Voice Cast: Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn, Grey DeLisle, Matthew Lillard, Wayne Brady, Vivica A. Fox, Pater MacNicol, John O’Hurley
Features: Vintage Cartoons, DVD Copy, UltraViolet 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, French
Disc Size: 15.1 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B C
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
The Mystery Incorporated gang – comprised of Fred (voiced by FRANK WELKER), Daphne (GREY DELISLE), Shaggy (MATTHEW LILLARD) and, of course, Scooby-Doo (WELKER again) – are set for their next adventure. The gang is traveling to Atlanta to attend the latest stage of the game show, Talent Stars to which Fred and Daphne have made it to the final round as a singing duo.
The finals of the talent show is being held at a historic opera house known for supernatural events and as the movie begins, we get a glimpse at a ghoul known only as The Phantom who swoops in during rehearsals and leaves an ominous note stating one of the contestants must win.
Participating, along with Fred and Daphne, are bratty young songstress Chrissy (ARIEL WINTER); pop violinist Emma (ISABELLA ACRES) whose style bares similarities to Lindsey Sterling; master magician The Great Pauldini (JOHN O’HURLEY); and lastly frightening diva Lotte Lavoie (VIVICA A. FOX). As you can guess, these are the suspects and rounding that group out is also the executive producer, and germaphobic, Dewey Ottoman (PETER MACNICOL), the energetic host, Brick Pimiento (WAYNE BRADY) and the opera house owner, Mel Richmond (JEFF BENNETT).
As Shaggy notes early on, they seem to be attracted to the bizarre and spooky but the others are raring to go with Velma especially excited to delve into the mystery behind the opera house. Upon their arrival they get a recounting of the events that transpired and the race is on to find clues and compiles a list of suspects. Luckily for them, the Scooby gang is staying with the other contestants at a ritzy hotel and as one would imagine, the Phantom is there to cause more chaos.
A subplot for Stage Fright involves, as has been a running gag throughout the series over the past decade or so, is the mutual attraction between Fred and Daphne which Velma, Shaggy and Scooby all notice yet the two cannot bare to reveal their true feelings for one another, all despite the obvious and even a lovely, if not generic, love song they sing toward the end. It’s a funny little gag. Speaking of love and relationships, thankfully the film completely drops the romance between Shaggy and Velma that, when I last watched, was inserted in the “Mystery Incorporated” animated series.
So with the stage set, both figuratively and literally, and the suspects laid out, it’s up to Mystery Inc. to unmask the culprit and stop him or her before it’s too late…
Unlike previous Scooby-Doo movies, Stage Fright does change the routine somewhat. Yes, there’s the normal process of collection clues and a villain who possesses supernatural powers, and can do things beyond modern technology, yet in the end is unmasked to be an average Joe (or Jane) using not-so-complex techniques to achieve their schemes. I realize it is a part of the fun, but can get a bit mundane. However, for this movie they switch it up a little to keep the audience at least interested in the plot.
The voice cast once again is impressive. You’ve got your mainstays like Frank Welker, who has been voicing Fred for more than 50 years (and Scooby for 10 years), Mindy Cohn is near perfect for the more modern Velma (since 2004), veteran voice actress is wonderful as Daphne and Matthew Lillard has made Shaggy his own thanks to his live action portrayal which then translated to the direct-to-video animated movies and television series. The film has a discernible group of supporting voice roles from the underutilized John O’Hurley to Vivica A. Fox and Wayne Brady are all excellent in their respective parts.
In the end, even with the little twist the writers put on the story, Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright is basically more of the same from the Scooby-line, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Between these DTV movies and the television show, the series has sprung new life and found a new audience that will I wouldn’t be surprised would carry it into the 22nd century in some form or fashion.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
This release comes with an embossed slip cover and inside is a download code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy (expiration of 8/20/2015) along with a standard DVD Copy. Unfortunately the features are sparse with only 2 Bonus Vintage Cartoons.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Warner Home Video arrives Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright looks pretty good arriving on Blu-ray presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and a clean-looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture is crisp and clean throughout and there’s no obvious signs of banding or artifacting which has been an issue on past DTV Scooby releases (especially the re-releases like Aloha, Scooby-Doo). As you would imagine, the colors are explosive really popping off the screen.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The disc includes a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and while it’s nothing amazing, it does its job well enough. The bulk and most dynamic sounds are for the music and/or score while the action parts are decent but hardly expansive. Dialogue levels do sound nice and clear, though, so it’s a passable little track for audio created in a studio.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Hanna-Barbera/Warner Animation has released another fun animated film with Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright. The story does have a “been there, done that” feel but the writers throw a loop in to keep the mystery going until the very end. The humor actually works most of the time and the side story of the Fred/Daphne relationship keeps their story moving forward. The Blu-ray released offers a nice video/audio transfer but the bonus features are, to say the least, disappointingly minimal.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.