Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins
By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Fun live-action prequel is too creepy for the littlest kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The gang bonds over the mystery at hand, showing their loyalty when it is questioned. They break down the stereotypes that they had of each other and apologize for being insensitive.
Positive Role Models
The adults at school are a mixed bag. The janitor says that he "hates" the school and hates his job, but then is seen dancing in the basement and happily filming his moves. The librarian grumbles about being stuck with illiterates but then shows much interest in Velma's ruse as a Russian exchange student. The Vice Principal is a short-fused tyrant, while the Principal seems to be a nerd at the helm of a huge school. No parents, except for the voice and feet of Shaggy's mom.
Violence & Scariness
The ghosts in this movie are "real," not just the fake costumed creeps of past Scooby mysteries -- though there is one of those, too. Some of the scary ghost faces and poltergeist moments might be too frightening for youngest viewers. But a humorous tone is cast over the whole movie, which keeps the scary stuff at arm's length. The bad ghoul sprays the gang with a sleep spray and forces them to search an area for an item that he covets. Scooby and VP Grimes are put in cages.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fred and Daphne share a kiss in the name of taking cover when the Vice Principal walks by. There is age-appropriate flirting between Fred and Daphne in general. Fred and Velma fall in a tumble on top of each other in a scene, putting them in an awkward position. Daphne gives Velma a makeover, saying, "There's always time for make-up and boys." Velma emerges from the bathroom wearing a short dress, which makes the guys stutter and stammer.
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"Zoinks!" and "jinkies!" Fred threatens a female ghost in a mocking way, as in, "Come here, Princess, and show me what you got!"
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Products & Purchases
There are nice cars in Daphne's parents' garage: a BMW, a Morgan, and an MGA. Vice Principal Grimes calls Scooby and Shaggy "Ben and Jerry" when they are found in the school freezer. Bears and Dolphins football teams are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
No booze or drugs, but Shaggy's basement has the makings of a stoner hang-out (what with the lava lamp and trippy posters.)
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that compared to most movies about high school, this entry in the Scooby-Doo oeuvre keeps it pretty tame. The ghouls and ghosts can be scary to the youngest viewers, but the gang has good chemistry, which helps them get through some problems and allows them to solve their first mystery together.
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Where to Watch
Based on 5 parent reviews
My jaw was open the whole time!
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What's the Story?
Coolsville High is a drag for a guy like Shaggy (Nick Palatas), who gets tripped on the bus and ostracized for eating his P. B. and Sardines sandwich. But lucky for him, a dog named Scoobert (voiced by Frank Welker) falls off a truck and dives for cover in Shaggy's basement -- thus beginning a beautiful friendship. Trouble ensues, however, when a tussle on the bus finds Shaggy, Fred (Robbie Amell), Velma (Hayley Kiyoko), and Daphne (Kate Melton) stuck in detention together. The unlikely group soon finds that they share a love of mystery, and that indeed a mystery is taking place right under their noses. The gang has to act quickly so that they will not be blamed for the havoc that ghosts are wreaking on the school property. Can they put aside their differences to solve the mystery?
Is It Any Good?
Fans of Scooby-Doo will not be disappointed by this live-action foray into the origins of the mystery-solving gang. In fact, when Shaggy calls out, "Scooby-Doo, where are you?" his voice rings out through the decades of the show. The cast really seems to get into the groove of their prescribed roles, bringing a little uniqueness to the otherwise bland Fred and Daphne roles, for example. Velma also shows a little vulnerability and Shaggy seems less stoned and more lovably goofy than in previous incarnations of the series. And though Scooby is a computer-generated image, the vocal talents of Frank Welker make him feel like the old Scoobs.
It's also nice to see that members of the gang read books, hence discovering their mutual love of mystery by noticing that they share taste in reading material. Though teenage tensions are acknowledged, the feelings seem pretty appropriate for the characters' ages. And the plot is full of enough twists and turns to keep adult fans interested. Not intended for the youngest viewers, but interesting enough for tweens, this movie could make for fun sleepover fare.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about friendship. Why does Shaggy have trouble making friends? Does he change to make people like him? Or do the people around him change their view of him?
How do the characters in the movie pre-judge and make assumptions about each other? Is this fair? Why do we humans judge one another before getting to know one another? How might this be harmful? How is it helpful?
- On DVD or streaming: September 22, 2009
- Cast: Frank Welker, Kate Melton, Robbie Amell
- Director: Brian Levant
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- MPAA explanation: Not Rated
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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