Scooby Doo! Stage Fright (2013) FILM REVIEW
So today is the birthday of Leo Mitchell. She’s maybe known to my fans as the thumbnail artist for my channel, but she’s also been a writer or script consultant for a few of my videos too. She’s a fantastic mate! Always supporting me at hard times, giving me honest advice, or sharing a good laugh with me over something silly.
I think it’s criminal that someone as amazingly talented as Leo isn’t more famous. She’s super underrated. Leo should be one of the most recognizable British artists on the internet. To better show off how brilliant Leo’s artwork is, I have made a slideshow for a few of her illustrations:
See what I mean?! PLEASE support Leo by following her Deviantart, Facebook, and Twitter. She deserves a MUCH bigger fanbase, and YOU can be part of that exciting increase! You also won’t regret following her, because she publishes wonderful art quite often.
So you’re most likely asking “What does Leo have to do with this review?!”. Well Leo loves two things: Scooby-Doo and actor Peter McNichol. Interestingly, McNichol has actually lent his voice to a Scooby-Doo movie! This review is for Leo; her birthday present.
In this Scooby-Doo movie, Fred and Daphne have made it to next stage of a TV talent contest, and the Mystery Inc. team head to Chicago to shoot the show. The filming location for the performances is a supposedly haunted opera house. While rehearsals are taking place, a mysterious masked phantom is trying to disrupt everything, who could this monster be?
Now, I actually read that a critic called this film a “Phantom of the Opera” rip-off. No offence to that reviewer, but do they even know what a rip-off is? Not only is it pointless to seriously accuse a film of taking a story from the public domain, because legally that makes the property up for grabs to everyone, but this Scooby-Doo movie is CLEARLY a straight up comedic parody of Phantom – NOT a sneaky attempt to copy a classic tale. This is like criticising “Hot Shots!” for being a rip off of “Top Gun”.
Anyway, this film did actually keep me wondering WHO the phantom could be? This isn’t because the red herrings or clues are cleverly-hidden with subtle nuance though. Nearly every character in the film acts extremely suspicious or has an obvious motive, so it’s pretty easy to keep the audience guessing. However, this does actually pay off, because we gradually stop asking “Who is the Phantom?” and begin wondering HOW MANY are playing this behind the scenes menace.
The Phantom himself is pretty spooky for children’s movies standards, with his glowing red eyes, skull-shaped face, and booming malevolent voice. He’s the kind of monster that’ll creep kids out, but not to the point where parents should be concerned. However, adult Scooby fans may find him to be too tame (especially when compared to the monsters from “Camp Scare” and “Zombie Island”). If I’m honest, I personally found some of contestants or their parents to more intimidating haha! They are that off the wall.
That’s the thing, I have to say that the film’s strongest aspect is it’s array of eccentric contestants. Everyone trying out for this talent show has a louder-than-life personality trope or displays sociopathic behavior with deviant flamboyancy. If you’ve seen enough talent show contests on television, you’ll recognise these archetypes as realistic reflections of the kind of folks who DO audition – as cartoony as they are. I do also like how an entrant with Dwarfism is seen as the “hot guy” of the contest, as well as someone who completely owns his height with confidence, because little people are rarely given flattering representations in media.
What makes this contest special to Fred and Daphne though, is that it makes Daphne confront her feelings for Fred, because their duet is a chance for them to get closer. Of course, this does mean that we mainly carry on the whole oblivious Fred gag, but the film manages to conclude this subplot, by naturally tieing their romance INTO the competition.
Will you care who wins this contest? Well, at first you MIGHT have a favourite, but that becomes irrelevant once contestants start leaving one by one out of fear. What I DO like though, is that we become subconsciously challenged about whether Fred & Daphne should win or a sweet and talented violinist girl called Emma? On the one hand, audiences might naturally want to root for Fred and Daphne, but on the other hand, Emma maybe deserves and needs this more? I really like how Emma’s inclusion shakes up our feelings towards Daphne and Fred’s race to win.
I won’t spoil how this moral conundrum is solved, because that would be spoilers, but I have to admit that it’s a REALLY wholesome conclusion that does favors for everyone. Some audiences might see it as a cop out, while I reckon it was perhaps the most heartfelt way to resolve a predicament like this – especially when we know what’s on the line for Emma.
This is also a REALLY funny Scooby-Doo movie! Like, a legit hilarious film that got a lot of loud strong laughs out of me. The screenplay was penned by Doug Langdale, creator of Disney’s “The Weekenders” and developer of the “Earthworm Jim” TV show, and he brings the snappy wit from those cartoons into this Hannah Barbera franchise in great fashion. The comedy finds it’s best gags from taking jabs at reality show politics or subverting the Phantom of the Opera story.
That’s not to say that the film is all giggles and farcical satire. There’s a lot of tension inspired by the Phantom’s threatening tactics to frighten contestants. Heck, we even get a sequence where Fred physically FIGHTS the Phantom on the stage rails, and it’s quite intense to watch for a Scooby-Doo confrontation – Fred could get seriously injured or killed. Not to mention, when one Phantom is revealed, he goes totally insane! Resulting in a really fun car chase that pays homage to “101 Dalmatians”.
Seeing as I brought up Peter McNichol early on, I think that I should address his performance. It’s really great, perhaps the best one in the film even! His character is a Germaphobic and dog-hating assistant director called Dewey. McNichol brings a neurotic grumpiness and colourful theatricality to the role. He gives the character some extra depth that goes beyond what’s on the paper. It’s also funny to note that Dewey ends up getting pink slime on him later on, which is maybe an affectionate reference to his “Ghostbusters II” character?
To conclude, I REALLY enjoyed this movie! A lot! It may follow your usual Scooby-Doo cliches, but having more than one perpetrator really spices things up. It’s humour is wittily-penned, the action scenes are surprisingly intense for Scoob standards, the Phantom references are brilliant, and the satirical pokes at reality show contests are spot on. I’ve not seen that many Scooby-Doo movies, but this is certainly one of the best I’ve watched yet.
Now, before you all leave this page, I have one more special favor to ask of you all! I’ve been asking people to direct tweet Leo a happy birthday message, while ALSO including a picture of one of her favourite characters: Mr. Rzykruski (Frankenweenie), Robert Callaghan (Big Hero 6), Mad Hatter (Batman: Arkham City), Dr. Janosz Poha (Ghostbusters II), or Walter Peck (Ghostbusters II)! Can you be one of those people who does this? Thanks! Let’s make her quarantined birthday special!