Scooby Doo 2
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed pretty much follows in its predecessor's footsteps, churning out the same over-the-top shenanigans. Here the Mystery, Inc. gang battles a horde of monsters brought to life by a masked mastermind, natch.
Scooby and the gang at Mystery, Inc.--Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard)--are at the top of their game and just about everyone in Coolsville loves them. Even the Coolsonian Museum is honoring them with an exhibit--a costumed display of Mystery, Inc.'s former foes, such as The Pterodactyl Ghost, The Black Knight Ghost and The 10,000 Volt Ghost. Yet, at the museum's gala opening, the team's stellar reputation is put in serious jeopardy when said monsters come alive, re-created by a masked villain who vows to bring Mystery, Inc. down. Under pressure from relentless reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone), the gang launches an investigation into the monster outbreak, but as the mystery deepens, Mystery, Inc.'s members end up questioning their roles within the organization. Can macho leader Fred and image-conscious Daphne look past the superficial and find the identity of the Evil Masked Figure? Will brainy Velma let her feelings for Coolsonian Museum curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) blossom, even though he is a key suspect? And finally can Shaggy and Scooby stop cowering--and eating--long enough to prove they can be detectives? These are tough times for the gang, but they've got to pull it together so they can solve the mystery and save the day.
Even though it seems a little ridiculous that Scooby-Doo 2's fleshed-out cartoon characters would try to dig deep to find answers within, the returning actors continue to have fun exploring their alter-Scooby-egos. Prinze's Fred has a hipper haircut this time (the original matted blond 'do had to go) and isn't quite the braggart he once was. He is still unquestionably the ''face'' of the group, until he is made to look foolish by the ruthless Heather, played with relish by Silverstone, who shines in the bad-girl role. Gellar has definitely dropped Daphne's ''damsel-in-distress'' routine, getting all Buffy on the monsters, but is still worried that its her looks, not her skills, that get her attention. Cardellini's Velma, on the other hand, gets a love interest--and even all dolled up at one point--but can't get rid of her inherent geekiness. It's Shaggy and Scooby who experience the biggest revelation, realizing they really are nothing but giant screw-ups. Lillard actually turns in some (and I can't believe I'm actually saying this) poignant moments as Shag grapples with his inequities. They all realize in the end, though, that for the good of Mystery, Inc., it's best to be true to yourself. Thank god.
Director Raja Gosnell goes full throttle in his second Scooby effort, with more action and more elaborate, theme-parky sets than the original. Even as the characters pause to reflect on their faults, these moments are thankfully short-lived before the gang is thrust into another wild chase or fight sequence, keeping the kiddies' minds occupied--and allowing the adult fans to laugh at all the monsters they remember from the TV show. One of the criticisms from the first Scooby-Doo was that it didn't provide enough ''inside'' jokes for the grown-up enthusiasts (and face it, there are probably more of them than kids). But Scooby-Doo 2 harkens back to the good old days and even pokes fun at all those criminals whose evil plans and ghost disguises were foiled by the meddlesome quintet. They all gather at their own watering hole called the Faux Ghost, where they can throw darts at pictures of the Mystery, Inc. gang. Funny stuff. Overall, the sequel provides the same madcap fun the original did, without requiring the use of too much brainpower.
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is what it is--another action-packed, wacky and fairly authentic send-up of a very silly Saturday morning cartoon TV show.