The Scooby gang has encountered all sorts of foes over the years, from men in masks posing as monsters to honest to goodness zombies and witches, but in The Sword and the Scoob, our heroes may be facing a magical menace that even their crime-solving skills can’t solve. Given the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court treatment Scooby-Doo and friends are whisked back in time where they must face off against the legendary sorceress Morgan le Fay.
The movie starts with a cold open where the Scooby gang solves a mystery involving a monster terrorizing a passenger airplane, which is later revealed to be a dude in a costume who was trying to lower the cost of airfare by sabotaging the flight with his monstrous shenanigans, but during this mystery Velma (Kate Micucci) discovers that Shaggy’s (Matthew Lillard) ancestry can be traced back to a northern English village called Norville Der Morgana. It should be noted that members of the Scooby gang have ancestors in all kinds of places across the globe. The grateful airline owner grants the gang free passage to England and before you can say “Sword in the Stone” our heroes are busy doing touristy things in Jolly Ole England, but when the gang finally arrives in Norville Der Morgana they learn from the Mayor (Ted Barton) that this town is believed to be the last remnants of the legendary Camelot, which leads to Velma heading to the local library to investigate such a preposterous allegation.
A not-very-helpful librarian points the gang in the direction of a book that tells the “Legend of King Arthur” and is where they learn that Arthur had faced attacks by the notorious Morgan le Fay, an evil sorceress who demanded the throne, and when everything seemed hopeless a knight named Sir Norville appeared brandishing the sword Excalibur. After a tournament this mighty knight became the rightful ruler of Camelot but no sooner did he take the throne than Morgan le Fay returned and whisked him away to her castle where the two were never heard from again. King Arthur decreed that if Norville or any of his children returned they would be declared rulers of all the land. Now, I’m no Arthurian scholar but that is one seriously messed up retelling of the story of King Arthur and Camelot.
Soon after learning of this startling revelation, that Shaggy could be heir to the throne, they are accosted by the ghost of Morgan le Fay who declares that she will “Finally have my revenge” which leads to a chase across the English countryside that ends in and amongst the remains of a low rent Stonehenge. When Morgan le Fay catches up with them she casts a spell that sends them back in time to the court of King Arthur. This does lead to a big question “How exactly would casting them back in time be beneficial to the ghost of an ancient sorceress?” As Scooby-Doo mysteries go The Sword and the Scoob is pretty thin on the mystery side of things, as suspects all we have is the mayor who probably doesn’t want some American claiming the rights to their land and then we have the grumpy librarian who is barely a character, so it’s hard to even qualify her as a suspect. This is also the era of “Velma the Denier” and she will spend the bulk of the movie denying that magic exists, despite her encountering actual magic in such outings as Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, and once they appear to be in 5th century Britain she is quick to declare that, “Nope, not a mystery it’s a hoax.”
What follows is a collection of wacky hijinks with the Scooby gang arriving at Camelot, Shaggy pulling Excalibur from the Stone to cut a sandwich, Velma getting “lessons” in magic from the legendary Merlin the Magician (Nick Frost), Shaggy’s challenge to the throne which results in a tournament where Daphne (Grey Griffin) will have to step in as Shaggy’s champion because Fred (Frank Welker) is paralyzed by one of Morgan’s spells. Now, we may be in the era of “Velma the Denier” but we also have the wonderful “Daphne the Badass” for counterpoint as later shows and movies have done their best to leave the “Damsel in Distress” aspect of the character far behind – though making Fred a bit of an idiot seems to be this show’s strange way of counterbalancing that – but Daphne does have her own weird moments as well, such as her strange belief that “Reality is a simulation, the universe can’t implode because it isn’t even real.” That said, despite her belief that we are all living in The Matrix seeing her defeat each and every one of the Knights of the Round Table was the highlight of this movie.
• The pre-credit sequence pays homage to The Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
• Velma is somehow able to get DNA tests run during the cold open mystery, which takes place aboard a plane, but as DNA tests take 24 to 72 hours to run that must have been one very long flight.
• Daphne and Velma are, apparently, big fans of the animated series Thundarr the Barbarian, a fun 1980s show that gets several shout-outs in this movie.
• Shaggy wears a family heirloom around his neck that has never appeared in the previous five decades of Scooby-Doo history, a clear case of ham-fisted backstory.
• We learn that Velma has a pet peeve against libraries that keep horror and romance books next to each other and I can’t say I blame her.
• While the gang is being whisked back through time we get flashes from various Scooby-Doo shows and movies, which seems to imply that they are all somehow part of one continuous continuity, but as we are dealing with five decades of material this is pretty much impossible. Are we possibly seeing flashes of alternate realities?
• Velma uses a picture of the gang in the present to gauge if they’ve changed the future; much like Marty McFly did in Back to the Future.
• As a “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” Velma is given Mickey’s hat from Disney’s animated classic Fantasia, but despite that she is still in denial of the existence of magic.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Velma was basically right all along, it’s revealed that the town of Norville Der Morgana was being fitted to become a major theme park tourist attraction and the Mayor was concerned that Shaggy could lay claim to all the surrounding lands and ruin all their plans, so what is their solution to such a dilemma? The obvious answer is, of course, to drug the Scooby gang and gaslight them into believing the newly constructed Camelot theme park was the real deal so as to trick Shaggy into signing over the land. Clearly, this was their only option. That this was Velma’s first assumption when the gang first arrived in the supposed legendary “Camelot” makes her reveal at the end to be rather anti-climactic, and once again the technology the townsfolks utilize to create magic spells and flying dragons is all fairly outlandish and laughably ludicrous, but hey, it is a kid’s show and not to be taken too seriously.
That Velma attributes this scam to sleep gas, flying wire rigs and Fred’s gullibility – seriously, he believes he’s paralyzed by Morgan le Fay simply because she tells him that he is – and it is all fairly farfetched and beyond implausible but I did like the fact that the big tip-off was that when King Arthur (Jason Isaacs) used Thundarr the Barbarian’s catchphrase “Demon Dogs!” it made Velma suspicious and then she had those suspicions confirmed when he later revealed his fantastic ab muscles, which were the real give away to her that this was the actor who portrayed Thundarr and not the legendary King Arthur.
I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t actually get the Scooby gang travelling back in time but I shouldn’t have been too surprised as the recent movies have shied away from the idea of real supernatural threats. Now, it should be noted that the film does end with the reveal that the Merlin we see helping Velma was not one of the hired actors and is possibly the real deal, but that’s more of a final stinger than anything substantial to the Scooby-Doo canon. Overall, The Sword and the Scoob was a fun enough adventure that if one is able to glance over the preposterous plot and lack of real mystery – the secondary reveal that the librarian who posed as Morgan le Fay and was secretly working against the town was pretty unnecessary – and I did get a chuckle out of seeing a King Arthur who acted more like a frat boy than the legendary ruler of Britain.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! The Sword and the Scoob (2021)
Movie Rank - 6/10
Even though The Sword and the Scoob was light on mystery and the idea that a group of Renaissance Fair enthusiasts could pull off such an elaborate con is beyond implausible there is still enough humour and action to keep fans of Scooby and the gang happy.