DC Comics and Scooby-Doo: Two beloved pop-culture institutions that work surprising charms together. In 1972, Hanna-Barbera paired Scooby with Batman and Robin, whose detective skills complemented the amateur sleuths of Mystery, Incorporated; the 2018 movie Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold carried on this team-up tradition with irreverent gusto. Yet the scope of these animated crossovers has thus far been limited to the Batcave, which raises the question: What if Shaggy, Scoob, Fred, Daphne, and Velma met, say, the entire Justice League? After all, one of the League’s more far-out incarnations came from Hanna-Barbera. Why not set the intrepid gang loose on a haunted house mystery inside the Hall of Justice?
Swooping in to explore this offbeat situation is Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too!, a breezy bit of business from Warner Bros. Animation that tosses these spritely gumshoes into the DC Universe and lets them ramp up their knack for investigating on a scale that sounds ridiculous and thankfully is. These flashy team-up jobs tend to be most memorable when they’re allowed to be bonkers, and Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too! delivers on that front: Among its various oddities is a sequence where Fred (Frank Welker) navigates a besieged Metropolis in the Mystery Machine and ramps the van off the tops of the city’s sleek Art Deco skyscrapers, without so much as a scratch to show for it. Sure, why not?
That’s but one example of the frivolous, mold-breaking daffiness from this direct-to-video Scooby feature. Despite the eclecticism of their varied clients and allies (which, for the record, include KISS and the Harlem Globetrotters), Mystery, Inc. isn’t normally expected to thwart supervillains, and once the gang arrives in Metropolis, they’re outclassed. Big-time baddies are running roughshod over Superman’s hometown: Solomon Grundy, Joker, Harley Quinn, Zod, and Brainiac, among others, are here to give Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and the rest a run for their Scooby Snacks. This full-on criminal assault is quickly glossed over, which is probably for the best – Scooby wielding a Green Lantern ring against Giganta might be pushing it, even for this series.
Why are these notorious scoundrels free to kick up a ruckus? It’s a response to the mysterious disappearance of the Justice League, which has rendered their Hall of Justice a crumbling mausoleum. Here, the Hall is used as a tourist trap for the Metropolitan citizenry until a phantom begins frightening them away, and naturally, Mystery Inc. is called in to investigate. Adding some spice to the Scooby formula is Lex Luthor (Charles Halford, doing a passable Clancy Brown), who rolls in with bulldozers, intent on reducing his arch-enemies’ headquarters to rubble. And he might pull it off, too, if these meddling kids – along with Krypto the Super-Dog, who gets surprisingly short shrift in spite of his second billing – don’t stop him first.
But who is responsible for the League’s disappearance and the Hall’s new poltergeist? The potential culprits pile up: There’s the lady who runs a fry truck previously shunned by the League; the disgruntled valet fed up with parking Batmobiles, Arrow-cars, and Invisible Jets; and, of course, former U.S. President Lex is hanging around, flanked by his flummoxed attache Mercy Graves (Victoria Grace) and Doberman bodyguard Rex Ruthor. (Side note: While Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too!’s fixation on Lex’s presidency is a nod to his history in comics and animated series, its subtle, Trumpian allusions will doubtlessly fly over the heads of younger viewers, which makes one wonder why it’s in here at all.)
What follows is a string of unlikely face-offs designed to elicit easy chuckles from fans of Scooby and DC alike. The script throws in its share of expected groaners, like Lois Lane (Tara Strong) failing to recognize Velma (Kate Micucci) without her glasses. Funnier bits include a scene where Shaggy fires an array of trick arrows from Green Arrow’s quiver (the disco ball arrow is a highlight) and a predictably hammy sequence where Shaggy and Scooby run amok in the Hall of Justice’s commissary. Quite a few of these gags and reference points seem to cater to an older, more comic-savvy crowd, though even die-hard DC fans might need to break out a copy of Who’s Who to catch them all.
Less successful jokes tend to orbit around the summer Daphne (Grey Griffin) spent with Daily Planet cub photographer Jimmy Olsen (James Arnold Taylor), which puts confident Fred on the defensive. Any time Fred and Daphne get a moment alone, the conversation veers to his insecurities concerning Jimmy, which might have provided some soapy oomph if Jimmy was actually present in the story – but he isn’t. Fred’s emotional fragility ends up serving a story purpose anyway (such is the economy of T.K. O’Brian’s wacky screenplay), but omitting Jimmy from most of the movie – especially when he’d fit right in! – feels like a big missed opportunity.
While Scooby-Doo! and Krypto, Too! misses a few tricks, director Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton (Harley Quinn, Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog) keeps things moving at a genial clip. But in truth, this ambitiously silly entry in the Scooby series, once rumored to be among the many scrapped projects in the Warner Bros. Discovery overhaul, feels more like a celebration of the DC brand than an offbeat throwback crossover. The funky eccentricities of Hanna-Barbera’s most popular characters have been sanded down enough over the years that it’s really no surprise that the world containing its Super Friends would feel more dutifully reverent than endearingly cheesy. Even Krypto, the purported star of this show, feels like a mascot instead of a character in his own right. In the direct-to-video world, even a Superdog can’t have his day.
An overstuffed DC Universe team-up that delivers creative yuks and a lousy mystery. Read More