Scooby and the gang (Frank Welker, Grey Griffin, Matthew Lillard, and Kate Micucci) are wrapping up another mystery until Scooby starts hearing a high pitched sound. This leads him to a farm in Nowhere, Kansas where he meets Courage the Cowardly Dog (Marty Grabstein), his owner, Muriel Bagge (Thea White in her final voice role) and her husband, Eustace Bagge (Jeff Bergman). But creepy things are happening in Nowhere concerning a hoard of Cicadas. It’s up to Scooby, Courage, and the gang to save the town from the invading bugs.
Scooby-Doo is one of the longest running animated series that’s only rivaled by The Simpsons, with reboots and reincarnations in a variety of media, but the one avenue that has been consistent is the home market. Starting in the early 2000’s with Zombie Island, Warner Brothers turned out many direct-to-home media movies starring the great dane. Some of these had guest stars such as John Cena, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Batman. Comparatively, Courage the Cowardly Dog is still a puppy, but has garnered praise for its mix of comedy and horror. With so many guest appearances, one wonders why something like this didn’t happen earlier given how much these shows have in common.
But nineteen years later, we have the crossover that took everyone by surprise this Halloween. For a project that had no input from the original creator, this takes advantage of every possibility: splurging in the kitchen, dealing with crazy old men, finding clues, and of course running from monsters with songs in the background. Scooby-Doo often flip-flops between bad guys in masks and the authentic super natural, but placing them in Courage’s universe works to its advantage. Not only traveling to a new area, but one that runs on paranormal logic that would otherwise be proven a hoax by the end credits. As stated in other reviews, Scooby-Doo is at its best when dealing with real monsters: even the first live-action film knew this.
The voice actors are perfectly cast whether they are returning or replacing those who are no longer with us, especially Thea White reprising her role as Muriel before her unfortunate passing. Jeff Bergman is a fitting replacement for the late Arthur Anderson as Eustace, and it’s refreshing hearing Marty Grabstein return to voice Courage after a brief hiatus from the attempted revival The Fog of Courage. Pairing the characters in different groups adds unique dynamics that makes these crossovers worthwhile. Shaggy and Scooby get along well with Courage when chowing on sandwiches or running from monsters. Velma and Muriel respect one another through clever riddles straight out of The Hobbit. And though he’s a senile bag of bones, Eustace has some great scenes venting his frustrations for everything that happens to his personal belongings. Sometimes the Scooby gang gets sidelined, but considering how much needs to be squeezed into an hour and a half, it still works. The big reveal of the people behind the swarm is clever, though it would’ve been great if they did more with them outside of just making an appearance despite a gigantic finale that knows how to deliver a potent message. That and the ending follows the typical animated feature cliché that started with Shrek and has infected every animated movie since the early 2010’s.
The animation from Warner Brothers is the perfect wackiness that successfully blends two art styles into one adventure. Despite being direct-to-home quality, the crisp hand drawn animation doesn’t shy away from showcasing the gruesome creatures Nowhere has to offer and the crazy reactions from both canines that scares their fur off. The adventure often leads to sticky situations paying homage to other horror films like Alien, helped by the reliance on shadows and colorful lighting to give off and other worldly look from one location to another. There are also many easter eggs in the background concerning Courage’s rogue gallery that could rival Batman, and while the blending of computer animation isn’t perfect, it keeps to the idea of having the supernatural stick out in an otherwise eventless town.
Scooby Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog is a fantastic crossover that know what its audience wants and gives it to them in large quantities, unlike Scoob! that pandered to a non-animation audience only to backfire when the pandemic relegated it to streaming services. All the crossover opportunities are taken advantage of, the voice acting is top notch, it has fun with both its humor and horror, the animation is a work of art blending two styles together, and best of all it will please fans of both series while offering newcomers an introduction to these similar animation icons. It’s won’t change the crossover landscape like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for how long it took to make this happen, it’s a horror dream come true. If you haven’t seen this yet, make it a must watch before the holiday ends. Otherwise, you will be tricking yourself out of a fantastic treat this holiday.
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