A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the characters are in frequent peril that is intended to be comic, but may be overwhelming for some children. No one is hurt, but the ghosts and monsters are ghoulish looking and some kids may find them more scary than silly. A kick in the crotch is intended as humorous. The movie has some crude potty humor and some mild language ("butt," "screwed up"). There is a particularly annoying product placement for Burger King.
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 of 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? Why was it hard for Velma to believe that Patrick liked her? What do you think of Daphne's comment that "The object of a healthy relationship is to never let them know you have flaws?" Why did Shaggy think he was not helping his friends? What did he learn? Why was it so easy for Heather to change so many people's minds about the Mystery Inc. folks? What helps you decide what you think about people in the news?
- 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
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.