The 2002 Live Action Scooby-Doo Movie is the Greatest Piece of Cinema Ever Made

Scooby-Doo has reincarnated many times throughout history, but this live action adaptation is the best!
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Scooby-Doo has reincarnated many times throughout history, but this live action adaptation is the best! Photo location:

Anna Jordan, Staff Writer

You read the title right. I have made this claim and I will die on this hill, head held high. I am aware that this article is located in the humor section, but know that I mean every word of this article. Every. Word. The only reason this article is in humor is because no one is ready to understand that this is the truth, and I am sorry in advance to anyone that loves “Lady Bird” or “Inception” (both are truly exceptional films) but you are wrong.

“Scooby-Doo” (2002) is the greatest movie ever created.

I need to warn you in advance; you’re about to have your mind blown. Whatever you thought you knew about Scooby-Doo, I need you to forget it. Throw it out the window, discard the Scooby snacks, and throw caution to the wind. You will leave this article a different person, I guarantee it.

Before I explain the plot of the movie, I would like to insert the fact that James Gunn wrote this screenplay. Yes, the director of both “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies (he’s also set to direct the confirmed upcoming third installment of the franchise) and “Suicide Squad” contributed his talents to this movie. Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain the plot. Buckle up.

The movie opens with the seemingly haunted toy factory under the siege of the Luna Ghost– but don’t worry, the gang is on it! After a kerfuffle and several plan-related mishaps, Mystery Inc. manages to solve the mystery (spoiler-alert, it’s Old Man Smithers– the creepy janitor!). This scene brings back the classic nostalgic feel of the gang taking down a small town mystery, which sets a tone of a simpler time in order to contrast the later independent tones of the movie.

However the conflict is far from over… there’s trouble in paradise with the Mystery Gang. Velma feels underappreciated, Fred feels threatened by the possibility of the fixation of a power imbalance, and Daphne is sick of being the damsel in distress. Despite Shaggy and Scooby’s attempts to patch up these concerns, Fred, Daphne, and Velma walk away from mystery solving with their noses in the air. What will Shaggy and Scooby do now?

The movie leaps forward two years where Shaggy and Scooby are living in the Mystery Machine, eating and chilling– the dream! However, they are approached by a representative of millionaire Emile Mondavarious. They are offered ten thousand dollars and the chance to eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet in exchange for the solving of a mystery on his spooky-themed amusement park island, Spooky Island.

All of a sudden, paths converge and the Mystery Gang is back in the same place! Velma is NASA scientist, Fred is an accomplished author, and Daphne is a lethal black belt. However, nothing is as it seems, and the gang can’t seem to find their footing as a team after Mondavarious offers a juicy mystery: the college students visiting the island are acting strange, and Emile suspects foul play. There’s no way these students could be this aggressive and brooding after spending time on Spooky Island.

The island’s lore discusses a vibrant culture and wild species of monsters before Emile Mondavarious built his amusement park, so the individual members of the gang start with exploring the island for clues– except something magical has happened. Shaggy has met the love of his life, Mary Jane! Scooby feels jealous and is desperate to find some way to receive attention.

After receiving a call advertising free burgers from an anonymous speaker, Scooby wanders into the middle of the woods to be attacked by the native monsters of the island! Lost in a panic, Scooby reconvenes with Shaggy only to be told that he was hallucinating by all members of the gang.

Eventually, all five members end up at the abandoned castle of horrors at the top of the island. They find evidence of not only an inside conspiracy, but also evidence of a brainwashing cult’s presence on the island! The biggest clue they find, however, is a small pyramid-shaped artifact: the Daemon Ritus.

The movie truly brings the wonder of the Scooby-Doo world to life.
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After that scary night of clue-searching, the gang finally feels like there might be a chance of reuniting. Velma begins to study the Daemon Ritus and deduces that its purpose lies in some sort of ancient ritual. After befriending another island partier, Velma also reveals that there was previously a sixth member of the gang: Scrappy-Doo, an ambitious and tiny dog with a gland issue. He had been exiled from the group for being a nuisance, and was now a mere memory of the gang. But don’t look now– the island monsters converge from all directions, dragging away the party-seeking college students into the night!

With Fred and Velma among those taken by the monsters, Daphne, Scooby, Shaggy, and Mary Jane desperately search for an end to this madness and fall asleep on the beach while waiting for help from the Coast Guard (though their behavior is also being controlled by the ancient monster’s ability to possess people). Except when they wake up, nothing from the night before remains. Everyone that was taken is back and ready to party– but they’re just not themselves.

Not to mention, 2000’s pop music icon Sugar Ray makes an appearance and is down to party, which is yet another point as to why it is the best movie of all time.

Things quickly turn south when it is revealed that everyone taken has been possessed by the monsters. Unbeknownst to Shaggy, Mary Jane has also been possessed, though Scooby figures it out and demands she expose herself as a poser.

After an intense argument in which Shaggy accuses Scooby of making up Mary Jane’s monstrous affliction out of jealousy, Scooby is captured by the inside members of the monster-takeover operation. In an act of courage, Shaggy infiltrates the underground base of evil only to find a massive vat of the protoplasmic souls belonging to the possessed college students and island attendees. Shaggy briefly chats with Velma’s protoplasmic self before releasing her to find her body, later also releasing Fred and Daphne.

While Velma finds her way back to her body and discovers the monsters can be killed by sunlight, Fred and Daphne end up in each others’ bodies. After using the Daemon Ritus for a good-ole’ switcheroo to get back in the right bodies, the gang figures out that the monsters are possessing the college students to protect themselves from the sunlight during the day. A native of the island reveals that the monsters and men behind the mystery are preparing the Darkopalypse ritual in order to take over the world and enslave humanity; however, the only way they can do that is with the sacrifice of a pure soul to the Daemon Ritus… aka Scooby-Doo.

Following even more expert detective work, the gang figures out that Mondevarious must be the man behind the ritual. Determined to rescue Scooby, the four set out to execute a complicated plan to take down the plot to end the world. Though Scooby’s soul briefly leaves his body, Shaggy foils Mondevarious’ plan and frees Scooby. Velma and Fred find out that Emile Mondevarious is no power hungry millionaire– he’s actually Scrappy-Doo in a realistic robot body who’s starved for revenge on Mystery Inc. Now a massive and unstoppable monster beefed up with protoplasmic energy from the ritual, Scrappy is determined to capture Scooby to complete the ritual to its deadly fruition.

Each member faces off a symbolic image of their own areas of improvement: Velma and Fred share their brains and brawn to fight off ritual participants, Daphne battles it out with a burly Telemundo wrestler providing his muscles to protect the ceremony, and Shaggy and Scoob rely on their friendship to keep the ritual from finishing. In a final domino sequence of success, all members manage to stop the ritual and save the college students from becoming eternal slaves.

With the mystery solved, one piece of the puzzle literally crawls from out of the ground: the real Mondevarious slithers out of a sewer that he’s been locked in for two years when Shaggy hears him banging on the door. It turns out that Scrappy had been playing the long game by living up to his name. Mystery Incorporated has finally saved the day thanks to their meddling and their talking dog!

If that play-by-play didn’t convince you enough, there is no word I could use to the sense of humor applied generously throughout the film other than “nuanced.” Each joke adds to the next and yet they are thrown out by the cast’s excellent performance with reckless professionalism, only adding to the comedy. Each joke’s hilarity is like a slap in the face until tears are streaming down your face.

(Plus any movie with the tag line “Doo happens” is automatically one of the greatest movies of all time.)

The character’s relationships do not feel forced in the slightest and are captivatingly genuine with respect to the characters’ histories. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the actors playing Fred and Daphne (Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, respectively) fell in love on set and are still married to this day.

Also, don’t lie to yourself, you’ve never heard of a plotline like this. Admit it. There comes a spark of respect for those that create stories to entertain not only the children that watch but the adults as well, and for the plot to be this imaginative makes it a diamond in the rough. Usually adults think it’s enough to stick an iPad with Cocomelon on the screen in their kid’s face and call it a day, but this movie is so unique and stimulating for children and yet simultaneously entertaining for adults that it can’t be ignored. Imagination is a commodity best served ridiculous, and this movie proves it.

The cast are an extremely talented and dedicated group of performers, only making the movie better.
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Additionally, the actor that plays Shaggy, Matthew Lillard, is a defining contributor to the magic of this movie. Obviously Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Linda Cardellini (the actress that plays Velma) all shine as convincing and enthusiastic attributes of the movie, but no one brings it like Shaggy himself. Lillard was made to play Shaggy. I genuinely believe that his divine purpose on this planet was to bring this character to life in both animation and live action productions. His performance is completely flawless, and his dedication adds an extreme sense of commitment and genuineness to such a silly and heartfelt movie.

Another fan of the movie, Charlotte Jordan ’23, agreed with my admiring opinion of Lillard’s performance as she said, “He truly transcends what was asked of him on this project. I’ve never seen someone so dedicated to his craft, and I have to believe there is some magic involved, some outside force at work. Maybe even a divine force.”

The 2002 adaptation of “Scooby-Doo” is the best movie ever made. I’m not sorry at this point, and I will keep defending my point forever, no matter the controversy. Polarization doesn’t scare me. The enigmatic wonder that fills this movie is palpable and makes the film all the more elite as compared to other movies. Doo happens, as I always say!