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Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring the voices of: Casey Kasem, Don Messick
Written by: Jim Ryan
Directed by: Ray Patterson
Retail Price: $19.98
Features: Get the Picture: How to Draw Scooby-Doo, The Race Is On game, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy Love to Eat Music Video, Trailers
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital Stereo, French Dolby 2.0, Spanish Dolby 2.0, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (14 Scenes)
Released: March 5th, 2002
The only Scooby-Doo film I ever had was his adventure to Hollywood, not counting the various other TV movies broadcast (often around Halloween) on the cable networks I perused as a child. Upon looking at the box cover, I'm led to believe that the reluctant werewolf is none other than Shaggy. I suppose, however, that "Scooby-Doo! and Shaggy, Who Becomes -- Albeit Reluctantly -- A Werewolf In This Film" is a title far too long for any contemporary children's flick.
Within the first three minutes of the film, Shaggy is introduced as a race-car driver with a girlfriend and then the plot moves to Transylvania where a Count Dracula resides. Apparently, the main conflict is that Dracula has assembled a team of monsters (the mummy, Frankenstein's monster, Swamp Thing, two witches and a skeleton named Mr. Bonejangles (yes, it's full of weak puns like that)) to win some sort of a monster race, but the Werewolf is in Florida for reasons yet to be made clear. But wait! A true deus ex machina comes when it's realized that a new Werewolf can be made. Readers, take one guess who becomes the new werewolf.
The plot flows predictably (it's a kids movie, remember?) and ends after an hour and a half. After watching the film, I had some crackers and took a nap in an attempt to recapture some of that childhood I missed out on by being shoved into the harsh world of DVD review. But onto the review of other aspects of the film.
The aspect ratio is 1.33:1 full-frame, but we're not missing out on anything -- this was originally a TV movie. Originally a TV movie, and it shows. While obviously preferable to any print you'd see on television, this transfer suffers from ghosting and muddiness (due, I suspect, largely to edge enhancement). Though always watchable, at times it's very better than other, usually at closer shots.
Dolby Digital stereo is crisp and good for the most part, though there is some background fuzz common to television-to-DVD transfers. To make the film slightly more watchable for us English speakers, try listening to it in the equally fine French or Spanish audio tracks (fun fact: hiccups in French is hiccups, but pronounced all wacky and French.) Subtitles for all three mentioned languages are included.
Get the Picture (1:45) is a short featurette with a voiceover lasting about ten seconds, then a 3 or 4x sped-up video of a guy drawing Scooby from the side and the front. Two thumbs down. (Editor's Note: Ebert better not sue us!)
"Scooby and Shaggy Love to Eat" Music Video (2:40) is a pretty generic song coupled with various clips of Scooby and Shaggy. Guess what they're doing. And The Race is On game is where you match drivers with their cars, and are then shown a scene with the car and the driver. Pretty lame. I can't imagine liking this even as a sugar-frenzied six-year-old.
Trailers features a very short Scooby-Doo (2002) teaser featuring the CG Scooby, 1:00 trailer for SD and the Cyber Chase, :30 trailer for Tom and Jerry and the Magic Ring, a montage trailer lasting two minutes for various SD animated flicks, and a two-minute trailer for Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
The DVD-ROM portion of the disc contains three (very short) demos for some (very bad) licensed games. The first I played was Scooby-Doo in the Jinx of the Sphinx, a point-and-click adventure game reminiscent of LucasArts games, but much more annoying and simplified. Every time you want to change your location (backgrounds are, of course, drawn, and sprite characters are in front) Velma or Shaggy or the damned neckerchiefed Fred piss and moan about wanting food, and then you have to give Scooby a Scooby Snack, and then they say they've got some adventuring to do, gang, or have to solve a mystery, gang, and well, they're just not very good. The two remaining game demos, featuring Scooby and the gang in "Showdown in Ghost Town" and "Phantom of the Knight" (ran out of rhymes, apparently) are the same game with different pictures, as much as I could figure.
Like a previous review of mine, Barbie in the Nutcracker, Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf has a targeted demographic - if you weren't going to buy this when it was announced, there's a very slim chance you'll buy it now. If, for example, you got a free review copy, it might be worthwhile to use as a babysitter for those demons incarnate we lovingly call children (Editor's Note: Ah, the perks of DVD reviewing...), but if not there's much better kiddie fare at a similar price available on VHS and DVD both. For what it is, it's a good enough film, but it's often broadcast on any number of broadcast and cable television channels (ABC Family, the big three networks, Cartoon Network come to mind) and should thus only be purchased if one's a die-hard Scooby fan.