Scooby-Doo and nautical nasties go together like peanut butter and jam; they’re a classic pairing that almost anyone can enjoy — unless you have a peanut allergy or a ghost pirate phobia — and with this tenth Scooby-Doo direct-to-video outing, we have the fourth time that Mystery Incorporated has encountered ghost pirates, but with Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!, we get the added wrinkle of this particular mystery taking place within the foreboding waters of the Bermuda Triangle. Shiver my Scooby Snacks, there be ghosts in them waters.
For this adventure, we pick up with the Scooby Gang as they celebrate Fred’s (Frank Welker) birthday aboard a cruise ship, compliments of his parents Skip (Tim Conway) and Peggy Jones (Edie McClurg), but unbeknownst to our heroes, the voyage of the Poseidon’s Paradise is a “Mystery Cruise,” and soon ghosts and various monsters are popping up at every turn. Unfortunately for the other guests, the Scooby Gang are mystery-solving dynamos and they solve a week’s worth of mysteries in just two days — which shouldn’t be too hard to believe given Mystery Incorporated’s track record in this area, plus the fact that every ghost or ghoul is revealed to be either Captain Crothers (Arsenio Hall) or the perky cruise director Sunny St. Cloud (Kathy Najimy). And so, feeling bad for ruining everyone else’s fun, the gang promises not to solve any more of the provided mysteries, which then, of course, leads to a real mystery falling into their laps.
The mystery of Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! is easily one of the weakest of the direct-to-video movies, this is due to the fact that it is practically impossible to solve the mystery because the plot is beyond moronic. Then, to add insult to injury, the suspect list consists of only two people and they are both in on it. Yet even knowing who the culprits are doesn’t help, because the motive behind the hoax is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in a Scooby-Doo mystery. In the movie’s cold open, we are introduced to Rupert Garcia (Freddy Rodríguez), an astrocartographer trying to map the stars over the Bermuda Triangle, and his boat is attacked by ghost pirates who are seeking a two-hundred-year-old painting that will lead them to something called The Heaven’s Light, a meteorite of supposed mystic properties. Captain Skunkbeard (Ron Perlman) needs the painting, so he kidnaps Rupert for his skills as an astrocartographer to find this mystical meteorite. So when Rupert escapes and is rescued from the sea by Poseidon’s Paradise, our heroes are drawn into the mystery.
So who could be behind this particular pirate plot? As mentioned, the suspect list for this mystery is rather on the light side. First we have Biff Wellington, an English billionaire who arrives mid-cruise via jet-pack, and then there is the ship’s stage magician, Mister Mysterio (Dan Castellaneta), whose powers of hypnotism are proven useless against Shaggy (Casey Kasem) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker), but during his act, he manages to “accidentally” hypnotize all the passengers and crew members in the audience. And both these guys are guilty. Turns out that Mysterio hypnotized Biff Wellington into believing that he was the reincarnation of a pirate from centuries ago, and told him that he could use the meteor to teleport back in time, but really this was just so Wellington could fund this ridiculous pirate ghost hoax so that Mysterio could steal the meteor for himself — it not actually being mystical but instead made of pure gold.
• During the credit sequence, we see ships from various time periods disappearing into the Bermuda Triangle, and one of these ships is a Viking longboat, but Vikings never made it as far south as the Caribbean.
• We get some nice appearances of past Scooby-Doo ghosts during the “Mystery Cruise,” as Captain Crothers and Sunny St. Cloud dress up as the “Ghost of Captain Cutler” from A Clue for Scooby-Doo, The Ghost Clown from “Bedlam in the Big Top,” and the werewolf from “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?”
• Both Skip and Peggy have heavy Minnesota accents, so I guess Fred has worked hard at losing his.
• Captain Skunkbeard’s ship must be part Tardis. The average cruise ship carries between four and six thousand passengers — not even counting the crew — yet we are to believe that Mysterio somehow managed to hypnotize them all into thinking they were ghost pirates and then loaded them all aboard Skunkbeard’s shitty little pirate ship.
• This particular pirate ship also sometimes looms over Poseidon’s Paradise, but most cruise ships stand about 240ft above the waterline, while the biggest galleon’s topmast reaches only about 120ft, so there would be no way for ghost pirates to swing aboard a modern cruise ship.
• Captain Skunkbeard mistakes Skip for Rupert because Skip dressed in Rupert’s clothes for the masquerade. So we are to believe that in all their planning, neither Mister Mysterio nor Biff Wellington looked up a picture of Rupert?
• Velma (Mindy Cohn) and Daphne (Grey Griffin) are given next to nothing to do in this movie, which is a crime.
The plot of Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! was bad, and the writers and producers of this movie should feel bad about making it. When viewing a Scooby-Doo mystery, a certain amount of suspension of disbelief must be employed — this is a kid’s show after all — but the mystery revealed in this movie was not only beyond lazy, it was insulting as well. The only real positive elements that I can think of would be the voice work on hand, with the regular Scooby cast and guest stars all doing fine work here, and the animation on display was well done as well, but the writing did its best to sink everything around it. The idea of the Scooby Gang being part of one of those “Mystery Weekends” is a clever concept. Sadly, that was ditched early on for this stupid hoax that didn’t remotely pass the smell test. This is a Scooby-Doo movie that even fans of the series should feel no shame in skipping.
Mystery Note: Biff Wellington shows up at the twenty-minute mark, has less than two minutes of screen time, and then vanishes until the big “masks off” reveal at the movie’s conclusion. In mystery writers’ terminology, that is called cheating
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! (2006)
Movie Rank - 5/10
As a mystery Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! is one of the worst entries in the series, with the hoax of the day being ludicrous and nonsensical, and though the talented voice actors do their best to raise the quality level the movie was pretty much sunk from the outset.