A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! is a 2020 animated movie in which Scooby and the gang must crack a mystery involving monstrous flying jack-o-lanterns. In this version, while the teens riding in the Mystery Machine are millennials who use apps as the bad guys make jokes about their assumed love of avocado toast, those familiar with the Scooby-Doo mysteries of previous decades should know what to expect. There's cartoon violence throughout -- much of the movie is an extended vehicle chase where Fred, Daphne, etc. are trying to outrun these "Jackal Lanterns" as they appear to be consuming humans in one swallow. The monstrous pumpkins, as well as other demonic-looking bad guys, might be too much for younger or more sensitive viewers. Violence includes explosions, fighting with a scythe, and Fred setting up a series of booby traps with spikes and arrows. Some potty language -- "butt," "pass gas." Bill Nye is one of the celebrity cameos, and he helps with the pro-science messages conveyed in the movie.
What's the story?
In HAPPY HALLOWEEN, SCOOBY-DOO!, Scooby (Frank Welker) and the gang are in Crystal Cove to take part in a parade and also stop a monster called the "Haunted Scarecrow." After capture, the Haunted Scarecrow is revealed to be one of Gotham City's most evil super-villains: Dr. Jonathan Crane. As he's being arrested, Crane warns Velma of more evil to come. Soon, Scooby and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), as scared and snack-crazy as ever, stumble upon a pumpkin patch that's getting soaked in toxic waste oozing from a tanker truck. The toxic waste appears to bring the pumpkins to life, with a giant pumpkin as its leader, and these tentacled, demonic-looking pumpkins begin attacking the reporters on the scene. Meanwhile, Fred and Velma try getting used to a modernized Mystery Machine van with Bill Nye as its holographic assistant, and Daphne becomes the understudy of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Together, they must stop these "Jackal Lanterns" and figure out who's really behind this mystery.
Is it any good?
This is a standard Scooby-Doo mystery that balances all the beloved Scooby-Doo cliches with attempts at modernity. Of course, there are some monsters (or are they?), Shaggy and Scooby are as easily scared and as snack-crazed as ever, and there are some celebrity cameos (in this case, Bill Nye and Elvira). These blend in with bringing Mystery, Inc. into the Gotham universe, and Fred, Daphne, and Velma are now tech-savvy millennials who use apps to help crack cases as the bad guys make cracks about their presumed love of avocado toast. It keeps the franchise fresh without ruining it, even as the action of the story is mostly an extended vehicle chase.
Scooby-Doo fans will find lots to enjoy, as will their nostalgic parents. Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! is a pretty standard Halloween-themed mystery, but it’s a silly and fun way to get into the Halloween spirit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about modern versions of classic cartoons. How is this version of Scooby-Doo different from the cartoon series from the 1970s? Which version do you prefer? Why?
How did Happy Halloween, Scooby-Doo! address topics such as science and technology?
Were the violence and monsters too much, or were they okay because they're part of a story set at Halloween? Explain.
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