When one thinks of gourmet food, Scooby-Doo wouldn’t normally leap to mind — Scooby Snacks and Dagwood-style sandwiches being the more typical foods associated with everyone’s favourite mystery-solving Great Dane — but with Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost, our intrepid group of amateur sleuths journey deep into the world of gastronomical delights. So, who exactly will introduce us to this new flavour of mystery? Well, in the vein of the 70s’ The New Scooby-Doo Movies, this direct-to-video movie teams Scooby-Doo and the gang with celebrity voices — playing themselves — and in this case, they are from the world of celebrity chefs and reality television.
This animated movie stays true to the Scooby-Doo formula with the Mystery Incorporated gang arriving at a new location only to discover that there is a supernatural mystery to solve. In this case, it’s at the Rocky Harbor Inn, a New England colonial historical site, which has recently been purchased by Fred’s (Frank Welker) Uncle Bobby Flay (Bobby Flay), the world-renowned celebrity chef and restauranteur. Needless to say, Scooby (Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) are more than excited to discover that Fred has a world-famous chef in his family tree, and even Velma (Kate Micucci) and Daphne (Grey Griffin) are happy to learn that they are going to be part of a live broadcast of Bobby Flay’s new cooking show.
Throughout the movie, we learn the history behind the Rocky Harbor Inn, which was originally owned by Fred and Bobby’s Very-Great Uncle Edward Flay, a colonial hero during the American Revolution, but most importantly is the fact that it has remained empty for two centuries, ever since Edward Flay mysteriously vanished after being heard uttering his final words, “The Red Ghost!” Bobby has converted the inn into a hotel resort/high-tech cooking arena, from which he plans to launch his new cooking show … that is if the Red Ghost doesn’t get in the way. Before you can say “Jinkies,” a ghost is terrorizing guests and chasing poor Scooby and Shaggy up and down the halls of the inn, along with a few other cooking celebrities: Giada (Giada De Laurentiis) who has martial arts and parkour skills that come in real handy, and Marcus (Marcus Samuelsson) and his supermodel wife Maya (Maya Haile).
What follows is your standard Scooby-Doo mystery with the gang splitting up to search for clues — there is a particularly nice bit where Shaggy and Scooby wreck a library while futilely looking for a hidden passage behind all the books — while Velma does the usual heavy lifting when it comes to finding clues and solving the mystery. Fred is pretty much left alone to be the lame comic relief in this outing, being stuck as the inn’s concierge during the ghostly crisis, while Daphne becomes Watson to Velma’s Sherlock Holmes. The ghost itself is a very frightening apparition, whose weird “shushing” sound is a harbinger of its evil arrival, and the very appearance of the phantom causes the high-tech kitchen to go completely crazy. But who could be responsible for all these ghostly shenanigans? Could it be disgruntled caretaker Jeremiah Noseworthy (Jim Cummings) who believes that Edward Flay was a traitor to his country? What about noted scholar Henry Metcalf (David Kaye) who wrote the book on the heroic history of Edward Flay, could his opposing viewpoints be the crux of this mystery? Then there is Sue (Audrey Wasilewski) the psychotic Sous-chef who isn’t too fond of Scooby and Shaggy’s penchant for eating everything in sight. But most troubling is the arrival of Bradley Bass (Jason Spisak), a shady real-estate developer who seems to have his own plans for the Rock Harbor Inn.
What makes Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost stand apart from previous Scooby-Doo movies is the mystery itself. Not only does it have a couple of nice twists to delight fans, but the clues and history our group of crime-solvers manages to dig up is pretty solid; from old documents written in invisible ink to the ghostly apparition itself and how it was created — spoiler, it’s not an actual ghost — all leading to a more than satisfying conclusion. Now because this movie lays out such a fount of clues and information, older viewers will have no problem guessing who the culprit really is, but Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost isn’t without a few tricks up its sleeves to keep even the most astute viewer on their toes. The animation is top-notch, the jokes and shtick work to keep the scares in check, just so it will not terrify any kiddies watching this movie. The voice-acting is surprisingly good considering half the cast is made up of reality show celebrities and not professional voice actors. This is an entry in the history of Scooby-Doo that I can heartily recommend to new and old fans alike.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost (2018)
Movie Rank - 7/10
Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost is a brilliant throwback to the original series, but it’s also not shy about throwing in a solid mystery and a truly scary looking phantom as well. This is a Scooby-Doo mystery that is fun for all audiences of ages.