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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Secret is standard franchise fare, released in 1999, with an abundance of cartoon action, witchy scares, and heroes in peril. With more jeopardy than usual, the Scooby gang encounters a deluge of villains of all shapes and sizes (including a cackling would-be sorcerer, a powerful witch, two demonic warriors, and other assorted evil-doers). Aside from that, it's business as usual, made with the assumption that viewers are familiar with the characters and the fact that the team, as always, solves supernatural mysteries. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are obsessed with food and consume it with gusto (just watching makes one bystander gag and run). Velma's insights help save the day, and Fred and Daphne are able sidekicks. Funny at times with plenty of suspenseful scenes, this edition to the Scooby collection is fine for kids who are comfortable with real versus imaginary violence.
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What's the story?
After a suspenseful adventure in a museum under attack in SCOOBY-DOO AND THE WITCH'S GHOST, the gang is delighted to befriend Ben Ravencroft (Tim Curry), horror novelist extraordinaire. Then, when the famous writer invites them to join him on his annual homecoming trip to Oakhaven, Massachusetts, they are thrilled. Not only does Oakhaven have one of the best restaurants in the world (Scooby and Shaggy -- both voiced by Frank Welker -- are all atwitter just thinking about it), but it's time for the Oakhaven Autumn Festival, and autumn in New England is amazingly colorful. Unfortunately, all is not serene and quiet as promised. It seems that Sarah Ravencroft, Ben's long-deceased ancestor who was unjustly accused of being a witch centuries earlier, has reappeared to haunt and terrify the town's citizens, bent on revenge. Once again, the mystery-solving team comes up against forces that may be unstoppable, including some unexpected villains and a conspiracy that may plunge the world into darkness and mayhem.
Is it any good?
Reliably comic-scary and making the most of the Scooby-Doo gang's silly likability, this 1999 adventure is traditionally farcical and very fan-friendly; Tim Curry's guest starring role is a bonus. The familiar voice actors Scott Innes, Mary Kay Bergman, B.J. Ward, and Fred Welker bring spirit and fun to their characters. This tale is more action-heavy than some of the others, but it's all exaggerated (Scooby-Doo and Shaggy tremble in fear countless times in this adventure) and even the most dastardly villains are dispensed with in short order, with humor as the main component. Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Secret isn't for little kids or super-sensitive ones who have difficulty discerning pretend violence from the real deal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the action sequences in Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Secret. Think about the differences between animated violence and live-action violence. Which is scarier? Why is animated violence so often intended as comedy? How difficult would it be to translate the action scenes in this film to live-action? Can you imagine how much more costly it would be?
What is a "plot twist?" What are the plot twists in this story? Which, if any, were surprising to you?
Velma knows a lot of fun facts about science and history (in this movie the facts were about "Wiccans"). Where do you think she gets this knowledge? Do even silly movies like this one motivate you to follow up on some of the information that's delivered?
- On DVD or streaming: October 5, 1999
- Cast: Scott Innes, B.J. Ward, Frank Welker, Mary Kay Bergman
- Director: Jim Stenstrum
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 66 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 1, 2020
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