A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Daphne & Velma is a live-action movie that shows how the two female members of Mystery, Inc. (the organization at the center of the Scooby-Doo franchise) met and became friends. Velma, a brainiac who always tries to prove that every paranormal experience can be explained by science, is a high schooler who doesn't quite fit in. Daphne is a child of global-hopping parents who's never been able to settle in one place. This movie recounts their initial "investigation" into a strange occurrence at their high school during their first days together. Cartoon action includes some peril (i.e., cackling robot spiders who attack with lasers, characters held hostage, falls, chases, a scary secret passage), enhanced by eerie music, spooky sound effects, and shadowy ghost-like figures. It's all comic in tone, and no one is injured or killed. Adult characters are either exaggeratedly overprotective or clueless. Racial diversity is played throughout. It's OK for kids who aren't bothered by pretend violence.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
High schoolers Daphne Blake (Sarah Jeffery) and Velma Dinkley (Sarah Gilman) are online pals when DAPHNE & VELMA begins. Though they've never met in person, Daphne is thrilled to tell her friend that, through a stroke of good luck, she will be enrolling in Velma's high school the very next day. Velma looks less than ecstatic. Indeed, Daphne is surprised and hurt when Velma keeps her distance at the high-tech experimental school they now attend together. Filled with smart kids and an array of gadgets and cutting-edge devices, the school is the brainchild of a tech tycoon. But something's not right. Top students are disappearing only to return completely changed -- numb, even zombie-like. Velma and Daphne seem to be the only ones who notice. The scary events, along with some open communication, find the two girls reconciling and vowing to solve the mystery together ... and it's a mystery that involves ghosts, a secret passageway, some people who are not exactly what they seem, and even Daphne's clueless parents.
Is it any good?
The Two Sarahs (Jeffery and Gilman) as Daphne and Velma give it their all as their early friendship is introduced, but a routine story, cheesy effects, and subpar writing let them down. Daphne's character has had some updates from the version Scooby-Doo fans are used to, and the story isn't as goofy without Shaggy and Scooby's comic relief. As with many franchises, film companies and toy manufacturers are hoping to increase their fan base with as many platforms as possible. Thus Daphne & Velma is intended for fans of high school hijinks. Unless the minds behind the plan can come up with fresher material and richer leading characters that are truly inspired by their cartoon spirits, it's doubtful that this concept is going to work. It's OK, but the original Scooby tales are better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between the jeopardy in Daphne & Velma and the jeopardy in the animated Scooby adventures. If you think one is scarier than the other, why? At what age were you first comfortable with pretend violence on-screen?
In film or literary terms, what is an "origin" story? How does this movie fit the definition?
Many films about teens and kids, especially comic ones, portray adults as clueless or foolish. How does that storytelling technique change the usual real-life power structure between grown-ups and kids?
Which do you think would be easier to create: an animated film or a live-action film? What different techniques are needed for each of them?
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