Our recent Weekend Movie Reviews have looked back to 2019 Hugo Nominees that didn’t receive notice here when they hit the theatres. This week, we look back to a 2018 movie that received little notice anywhere, and certainly won’t be winning any awards. However, it fills up this space until Brightburn and Godzilla, King of the Monsters get released later this month.

Did anyone realize they made another live-action Scooby-doo film last year? This one reimagines Velma and Daphne’s first mystery together, before they hooked up with a couple of guys and a talking Great Dane.

Title: “Daphne & Velma”

Cast and Crew
Director: Suzi Yoonessi
Writers: Kyle Mack & Caitlin Meares
Featuring characters created by Joe Ruby & Ken Spears

Sarah Jeffery as Daphne Blake
Sarah Gilman as Velma Dinkley
Vanessa Marano as Carol
Courtney Dietz as Mikayla Martin
Stephen Ruffin as Nathan
Fray Forde as Ryder
Evan Castelloe as Griffin Griffiths
Nadine Ellis as Elizabeth Blake
Brian Stepanek as Nedley Blake
Daniel Salyersas Mike
Adam Faison as Spencer
Arden Myrin as Piper
Lucius Baston as Mr. Nussbaum
Mickie Pollock as Two-Mop Maggie
Brooks Forester as Tobias Bloom

Available at Amazon Prime.

Premise

Wealthy, paranormal-interested Daphne Blake and brilliant, rational Velma Dinkley arrive at the same elite high school, where they encounter a mystery that may end their careers before they get a chance to ride in the Mystery Machine.

High Points

I address the design under “Production,” but it’s pretty good, and suits the material.

The acting from the two leads also shows potential. Sarah Gilman, in particular, develops into a plausible live version of Velma—the snarkier Velma from the show’s twenty-first century incarnations. Some of the banter between the leads is mildly funny. With a different script, the concept might have worked.

Low Points

They didn’t have a different script. This is silly, even by Scooby standards, and fails to do much entertaining.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 Mystery, Inc. have been tooling around pop culture since 1969, in numerous cartoons, some videogames, and four previous live-action installations. They’ve been played straight and as self-parodies, made it to the big screen, passed through every major comic company, and been subject to numerous unauthorized reinterpretations. Even in their original incarnation, the blend of Dobie Gillis, The Famous Five, and The Hound of the Baskervilles is clear enough. It’s hard to do much that’s original with them anymore.

This film does two: it focuses on the girls in the gang, and it does authorized Scooby-doo without, you know, Scooby-doo.

Effects: 3/6 I think they were going for deliberately cheesy.

Acting: 4/6 The leads are pretty good, but they wrestle with a poor script. Many of the actors in the supporting cast lose the bout.

Story: 3/6

Emotional Response: 3/6 The film contains multiple positive themes: friendship matters, girls can be strong, online social networks can be dangerous, the corporate infiltration of schools should be met with caution (particularly relevant in an era of pervasive Google Classroom), helicopter parents need to ground themselves, and living your life to score popularity points is idiotic.

Production: 5/6 This film’s design, production, and script suggest a living cartoon, with bright colours and strange lighting.

Overall: 3/6 The nine-year-old girls at whom this film appears to be aimed might be more tolerant. I think even children’s entertainment, inspired by a long-running limited animation series that has had more than a few low points, should try a little harder.

In total, Daphne & Velma receives 23/42

Note

The Scooby-doo Mysteries indicates that Velma graduated from a different high school than the others; most other incarnations tell a different story. A Pup Named Scooby-doo shows they were friends as children; Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins has them meeting, Breakfast Club-like, in detention. They’ve come of age in Coolsville, Crystal Cove, and now, Ridge Valley. Having Velma and Daphne meet each other before they encounter the boys or the dog really doesn’t violate continuity, because they’ve never really had it.