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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is a 2004 movie based on the popular 1970s and '80s cartoon series. Aside from really bad CGI, expect many of the gags, tropes, pratfalls, cartoon violence, and demonic monsters that defined the original cartoon. The demonic-looking monsters might be too much for younger kids. Some iffy humor, such as Shaggy smelling marijuana, and Scooby passing gas. Beer drinking in a bar. One of the bad guys hits Fred in the groin with a dart. Infrequent mild profanity ("crap," "sucks"). There's a particularly annoying product placement for Burger King. When trying to impress her love interest, Velma, with Daphne's help, changes her look, and starts wearing a skintight purple outfit.
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What's the story?
The Mystery Inc. ghostbusters -- Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby-Doo -- are being feted at the gala opening of an exhibit devoted to their adventures at the Coolsonian Museum. But a replica of The Pterodactyl Ghost turns out to be the ghost itself, all of the exhibit costumes are stolen, and TV reporter Heather (Alicia Silverstone) is out to ruin the gang's reputation. Each member of the gang feels responsible, and it will take all their courage, loyalty, and skill to vaporize the ghosts and un-mask the culprit. Is it Old Man Wickles (Peter Boyle), or his former cellmate Jacobo (Tim Blake Nelson)? Or could it be museum curator Patrick (Seth Green)?
Is it any good?
Only Scooby fans will enjoy this affectionate live-action tribute to the unquenchably popular cartoon series. MONSTERS UNLEASHED abandons the first live-action Scooby-Doo movie's wobbly attempt to appeal both to kids -- with silly scares -- and older teens -- with self-aware irony and double entendres. Instead, this one is a straight-on re-enactment of the cartoon classic, with some of the series' most memorable bad guys uniting in a sort of all-star reunion of a scarefest.
The special effects are fun, especially a silly disco dance number starring Scooby in a huge Afro wig to a cover a Sly Stone song, and the action sequences have energy and humor. But the characters are, well, cartoonish, and for anyone but hard-core fans, who will recognize every reference to each of Scooby's many cartoon incarnations, any charm in seeing them played by actors on the big screen wore off sometime ten minutes into the first one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to use a comment "out of context." What did Heather do to make Fred's statements seem as though they meant something other than what he intended?
How did the movie use the jokes and style of the original cartoon series, and how did they update it for more contemporary audience?
One of the subplots of the movie is an opportunistic reporter who goes out of her way to edit her reports to make Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby look as bad as possible. How does this satire anticipate the current media climate?
- In theaters: March 26, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: September 14, 2004
- Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Sarah Michelle Gellar
- Director: Raja Gosnell
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some scary action, rude humor and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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