As you may remember from older Scooby Doo films and episodes, Shaggy has quite a large family. Many of his ancestors are famous for something or other. We deal with another one of them in this film so Shaggy has to man up and do the impossible. More on that in a second. It’s a pretty fun Scooby Doo film as you’d expect. By this point, you either like the format or you don’t. I still get a little irritated at how Shaggy and Scooby never get braver even if that is the point. Still, since this film is about Shaggy getting tough when necessary, it’s less of a problem than usual. If anything, I pin most of the blame on Scooby in this movie.
So, the gang heads to a ranch that is owned by Shaggy’s cousin. Unfortunately, Shaggy himself is given a rather poor reception as everyone either avoids him or gets terrified at the sight of the guy. While it’s true that Shaggy hasn’t shaved his hair in a while, he thinks this is a bit much. It turns out that Shaggy looks just like one of his ancestors who was a big outlaw who looks just like him. The outlaw’s ghost has been showing up around these parts as well to scare tourists. It’s getting out of hand and the ranch may be doomed. They need money and fast. Fortunately, there is a 10K prize pot for staying on a horse the longest. Shaggy figures he can win the money to save the ranch, but can he overcome his fears to do so? Also…what does the ghost have to say about all of this?
The plot twist about Shaggy’s ancestor is a little obvious. It turns out that he wasn’t actually a bad guy and he was just framed by the sheriff. I think that having him actually been evil would have been a pretty nice twist to be honest since they all tend to be good, but while it was pretty expected, that doesn’t make the twist bad. After all, the main part of the plot was in the present after all with Shaggy trying to prove his mettle once and for all.
His reasoning was morally dubious tough. Obviously, getting the money to save his cousin’s business was noble. That being said, he was confident that he could win because Scooby would talk to the horse ahead of time and tell it not to start jumping around. I’m pretty sure that this is totally CHEATING but hey…what do I know about horse racing? Fortunately, Scooby forgot to do this so Shaggy had to earn the win the hard way. He pulled it off though since he knew how large the stakes were. When the going gets tough, Shaggy manages to pull through and that helped him a lot in this film. I can safely say that he was likable here as a result..even if the scenes of him being scared are still a little too much.
As for Scooby, it’s a little hard to recover from this. He had one job, talk to the horse. Instead he decided to encourage a little kid who was scared of horses. It was a nice thing to do, but leaving Shaggy high and dry was not. I’m as a little disappointed in Scooby since you wouldn’t expect him to make a huge mistake like that most of the time. The rest of the Scooby gang didn’t get a particularly huge role this time around. Fred was great as always as he had the net at the ready and continues to be rather self aware. He’s by far the best character in the series. Daphne and Velma have their own sub plot as well as they do some sleuthing and the store owner is only willing to help Daphne. That seems to always happen, but Velma took it reasonably well and I’d say that she was decent here. Daphne was fine as always so Scooby is really the only bad character this time around.
I have to give the film some kudos for its climax. It almost felt like the film was going to be wrapped up a little too easily, but fortunately the film villains decided to make a break for it. Nothing quite as exciting as having the villains decide to run and giving us a nice chase scene. Shaggy actually chasing after the villains is definitely very novel and this really could be the first time where this ever happened. Seriously, for once nobody threatened Shaggy or forced him to do so. It was his own idea since he knew that if the villains got away it would be all over for the ranch. This is probably the most heroic that we’ve seen Shaggy yet. It was a solid way to end the film off.
The soundtrack is fairly decent. It’s mostly free domain stuff so it’s not very unique, but it works well enough for the scenes. The animation looks pretty crisp and Scooby Doo does get noticeably clearer as it goes on. It’s fairly subtle if you look at it film by film, but if you look at a film from a few years ago and skip to this one, then it’s a little more evident. It’s a simple look that is easy to look at and understand what is happening in a flash. I definitely appreciate the style. The series is very consistent when it comes to these technical areas.
If I have any complaints here, it’s that I want them to experiment with the opening credits more. For a while, the series had some really awesome opening credit themes and then they just stopped. I’m not sure why, perhaps fans didn’t like them, but I personally thought they were really fun. The intros used a lot of different animation styles and intense music to work as a backdrop for it. I miss those and hope to see them make a return.
Overall, This is a pretty good Scooby Doo film. It was nice to see Shaggy act tough as we don’t get that very often. Nothing will beat the time he broke into a bar and beat everyone up, but this will rank as one of his best appearances. It was a satisfying way for him to get some character development over the course of the film. Whether you’ve seen the last few Scooby Doo films or not, this is one that you’ll want to check out. It’s a fun film and it’s not even that long. It embraces its mystery/comedy set up without going overboard on each one. I guess you could argue that the actual mystery is less front and center here than usual as it’s more about the horse race and getting the money, but the mystery is still there. I recommend trying to guess who the culprit is after the first 30 minutes since that’s enough time to meet most of the suspects without getting too deep into the film. If you go deep enough, then it usually starts to get clearer and clearer who did the deed so it’s not as legitimate of a guess.