What exactly are the key ingredients for a good Scooby-Doo mystery? There should be a spooky locale for the gang to visit, some sort of ghost or monster, and the required comic shenanigans for our cowardly canine and friends to be caught up in, but most importantly, there should be a god-damned mystery. Unfortunately, in Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood, we have none of those things — there are comic shenanigans, they’re just not all that funny. Instead, we have a strangely meta-narrative that makes little to no sense.
The first thing one realizes while watching Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood is that for some strange reason, this “movie” goes out of its way to point out that the Scooby-Doo Saturday morning cartoon was just a show and that the Scooby gang were all just actors. Were kids of the day clamouring for this kind of self-referential meta-humour? The basic premise of Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood is that Shaggy (Casey Kasem) and Scooby (Don Messick) have become dissatisfied with their roles as comedy actors, with Scooby being typecast as a “Funny, cowardly, clumsy dog.” This is revealed through Shaggy stating to the head of the network (Rip Taylor) that they deserve better than being stars in what he considers a low-class Saturday morning show.
The structure of Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood follows a very repetitive theme: Shaggy and Scooby walk into the head of the studio’s office and show him a pitch reel of one of their ideas to make Scooby a big star. This mostly consists of brief Saturday Night Live-type parody sketches of various shows like Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, Superman, The Sound of Music, Donny & Marie, The Love Boat, and Charlie’s Angels, but the most that these hack writers could come up with was just changing the names to stuff like Scooby Days and The Sound of Scooby — as if that’s all you need to consider yourself a parody.
But lame jokes are far from the main problem here, as this movie also fails to understand its own premise. If Scooby-Doo was apparently tired of playing the “Funny, cowardly, clumsy dog,” why make all these various pitches that depict him as such? In the very first pitch, we get “How Scooby Won West,” a western that was apparently written, directed and stars Scooby-Doo, but it then proceeds to show Scooby clumsily falling over things and running in terror from the villainous Jesse Rotten. Did Scooby not understand that Jesse Rotten was only an actor playing a part and not actually a bad guy? Was his falling over everything in sight part of the script or could they not afford retakes?
Throughout this entire movie, we are bombarded with Scooby-Doo’s standard comic antics that make no sense in the context of the story they are trying to tell. Sure, you still need these pitches to be funny, but the jokes shouldn’t rely on those old Scooby tropes; something new and clever should have been tried.
• This is the first Scooby-Doo movie, but at a mere 49 minutes in length, it can barely be called such.
• Fred, Daphne and Velma don’t seem all that concerned that Scooby quitting means they are all out of work. Velma is all about, “We have to get him back, for his own good.” That’s a lot of concern for someone who left you all in the lurch.
• In a flashback, we learn that it was Velma who picked Scooby-Doo from the pet store. Wasn’t Scooby always Shaggy’s sort of pet?
• The clips used from episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! only make us wish we were watching that show instead of this thing.
• Even in fantasy dream sequences, Scooby-Doo is a klutz, which means he must have some really deep-seated inferiority complex issues.
• For some reason, their parody of The Fonz from Happy Days has him wearing a pink jacket and purple pants.
Lame attempts at parody aside, the film also gives us four musical numbers that range from sad to painfully bad. There’s a Sonny and Cher number that goes on for seemingly ever and without even a slight attempt at being funny. Sadly, humour across the board is pretty much absent throughout Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood, but worse is the fact that this movie was never clear on whether the Scooby-Doo cartoons were supposed to be fictional or if they were based on the real adventures of the Scooby gang. Add to that the complete waste of Fred, Daphne and Velma, and you have one of the worst entries in the Scooby-Doo franchise.
Note: The only joke I found even remotely funny was one exchange between Daphne and Velma.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood (1979) – Review
Movie Rank - 3.5/10
Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood (1979) – Review
This may be the first official Scooby-Doo movie but it’s easily one of the most forgettable, the premise doesn’t hold water – even for a kids cartoon – and the sketches they try to pull off barely qualify as parodies and their humour falls flat time and time again.