Logline: the Justice League have gone missing, but the Hall of Justice remains open to visitors. When a ghost apparently starts haunting the building though, Jimmy Olsen invites the Mystery Inc. gang to investigate.
Scooby-Doo and the DC Universe have been crossing over since 1972’s The New Scooby-Doo Movies, where The Adventures of Batman stars Olan Soule and Casey Kasem reprised their roles as the Dynamic Duo. It’s such a fun idea, small wonder the team-ups have steadily increased over the years, unfolding in comics as well as TV. 2018’s Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold was an especially great comeback for those of us who loved the latter series, and Scooby’s latest DTV movie outing, Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too!, ought to be the Superman-themed equivalent right? Um…
For those who haven’t kept up with the DTV Scooby-Doo movies since their heyday in the late 1990s, when Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and its follow-ups were far more awesome (and scary) than they had any right to be, the series has descended into being little more than inflated episodes of the original show, with bloated runtimes that betray how they’d be more comfortable as 45 minute specials than 80 min. movies. Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too! is no exception, and will be a plodding experience for anyone over the age of 10.
Which is wild, you’d think the infusion of DC characters would alleviate that problem, but unfortunately the movie’s own premise greatly limits it in this respect, with Lois Lane and Jimmy sending the gang on their way pretty quickly, so they only hang out with Krypto, Lex Luthor, and his dog, Rex Ruthor. (I mean, what else would he call it?) Krypto, while the co-lead of this movie, doesn’t talk like the Great Dane Detective, which greatly limits how engaging he is, something that’s especially problematic in a cartoon as dialogue-heavy as Scooby-Doo.
It’s a really curious decision, given there’s a precedent for Krypto talking in animation: were there concerns about competing with or diluting Dwayne Johnson’s take on the character from last year’s DC League of Super-Pets? Or (and I’d be really incredulous about this) was it felt it’d render the DCU side of the movie too unrealistic? Or inaccurate to the comics? In any case, it’s jarring: this is a world of talking dogs, and superheroes, but a talking superhero dog was out of the question?
The real co-star is Luthor (voiced by Charles Halford, a really good Clancy Brown stand-in), who’s probably the most Trumpian the character’s ever felt since Gene Hackman, a whiny manchild of an ex-President hopelessly dependent on an overworked Mercy Graves (Mech Cadets‘ Victoria Grace), who hopes his red tie and waistcoat will make him look more imposing than he really is. However, the reliance on Lex means he wears out his welcome like everything else, and the rest of the Legion of Doom are criminally underused.
Solomon Grundy has a fairly sizeable amount of screentime, but the rest of the Legion makes you wonder why they were even there (other than to reveal Fred is, groan-inducingly, a Harley Quinn admirer.) Tellingly, no one at the Daily Planet seems concerned by them rampaging around Metropolis at the start: it really felt like the creative team were ticking the boxes for DC characters they wanted to include, without knowing how to incorporate them meaningfully. None of them even show up in the climax, which is dominated by a bunch of generic LexCorp robots.
What you have is a film where Scooby-Doo and friends interact with the larger DC Universe, but with its toys and paraphernalia instead of the characters we wanted them to meet: there are countless scenes where the gang sneak on clothing and disguises like the Bat Utility Belt or Wonder Woman’s golden armor, or use items like the Cosmic Treadmill, and it is a deeply shallow use of the world as a result, as if it was only done to sell toys. I imagine it may’ve been trying to convey a message that anyone can be a superhero, but it’s moot when Krypto is still the hero – Warner Bros. may as well have made a movie where the DC characters are fictional.
If it sounds like I’m being too harsh on a DTV kids’ cartoon, that’s fair, but I don’t see why this couldn’t have been an episode of the last (non-Velma) series, instead of a separate feature released for an additional cost, other than to bait superhero fans. As I said, kids under 10 will probably be laughing too much to notice how sluggish the movie is, although they may be equally confused that Krypto can’t talk, or disappointed by just how little screentime the Justice League have. Like Shaggy and Scooby at several points, this is just another glorified Scooby-Doo special, but in superhero clothing, and an easy skip for anyone who’s not a devoted fan of the talking mutt.
Let’s conclude on a positive note though shall we? The gag about Lois and Jimmy failing to recognise Velma without her glasses did make me chuckle – man, superhero comics are silly sometimes.