Animation, Brandon Vietti, Daphne, Frank Welker, Fred, Ghost bear, Grey DeLisle, John Cena, Kane, Matthew Lillard, Mindy Cohn, Mystery Inc., Mystery Machine, Review, Shaggy, Sin Cara, Velma, Vince McMahon, Warner Bros., Wrestling, WWE, WWE City
D: Brandon Vietti / 83m
Cast: Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn, Grey DeLisle, Matthew Lillard, Charles S. Dutton, Mary McCormack, Bumper Robinson, John Cena, Vince McMahon
Scooby-Doo’s animated features are now in their thirty-fifth year, and by this year’s end there will be thirty-five movies in the series. With three other features still to come this year, Scooby Doo! WrestleMania Mystery is number thirty-two, and while you might expect a drop off in quality after so long, and while the movie isn’t one of the best in the series, it’s still entertaining enough.
Strange things are occurring at WWE City – naturally – and they involve a ghost bear that is hell-bent on sabotaging the WWE facilities. When Scooby wins a video game competition where the prize is a trip to WWE City and tickets to WrestleMania, he and Shaggy persuade the rest of the gang (who are less than enthusiastic) to go with them. 112 miles later, the gang arrive at WWE City only to run off the road avoiding a raccoon. They’re helped by John Cena, and two WWE employees, Cookie (Dutton) and his nephew Ruben (Robinson). Cookie used to be a wrestler until an injury cut short his career; Ruben is an IT wizard but wants to be a WWE superstar. An encounter with local landowner Bayard (Corey Burton), who is against the amount of land that WWE City has taken over, also reveals more about the ghost bear.
With WrestleMania just two days away, WWE boss Mr McMahon shows the gang the WWE Championship belt, made from gold and inlaid with precious jewels. Kept under guard and with a sophisticated security system in place to deter any thieves, the belt is regarded as completely safe from harm by WWE head of security Ms Richards (McCormack). However, later that night, the belt is stolen and CCTV footage shows that Scooby-Doo is the thief. Given a chance to prove Scooby’s innocence – or at best, unwitting involvement – the rest of the gang have until the start of WrestleMania to find the real culprit or Scooby and Shaggy will have to fight Kane in the opening match. In the process they find out more about the ghost bear, discover a plan to detonate an EMP device during the show, receive the help of various WWE superstars including the reticent Sin Cara, and hatch a plan to find the real culprit. But unfortunately for Scooby and Shaggy, not in time to avoid facing Kane…
The combination of Scooby-Doo and WWE is, in some ways, an obvious choice, with the larger than life exploits of the WWE superstars providing a good backdrop for the adventures of Scooby and the gang. With the participation of a number of wrestlers – Cena, The Miz, Triple H, AJ Lee, Kane, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella, as well as commentator Michael Cole – Scooby Doo! WrestleMania Mystery strives to give equal screen time to both camps and thanks to Michael Ryan’s adroit screenplay, succeeds with a minimum of effort. The mystery itself isn’t too difficult to work out – though anyone expecting the villain to be revealed as Mr McMahon has probably watched too many episodes of Raw and Smackdown! – and the villain’s motive is entirely obvious, but this is a Scooby-Doo movie and as anyone who’s watched even one other in the series, or any of the TV shows will know, these aspects are entirely irrelevant. As always, it’s the antics that Scooby and the gang get up to that are the focus, and here, Shaggy and Scooby’s love of WWE is lampooned affectionately and provides most of the laughs.
The usual predictable nature of things still allows for some fun moments: a running gag involving The Miz, working out which WWE superstar is which (Triple H looks nothing like himself), Cena being able to speak luchador, a cave chase, and Shaggy persuading Fred (Welker), Velma (Cohn) and Daphne (DeLisle) to go to WWE City by showing them photos of some of the embarrassing costumes he and Scooby have had to wear over the years (complete with appropriately alliterative titles for the cases they relate to). The wrestling matches are well choreographed, and include a few moves that would be cool to see attempted for real, and the ghost bear is an unlikely, but impressive, antagonist.
As expected, the principal voice cast give good performances – as well they should with the number of times they’ve done this – and Dutton adds a clearly defined level of sadness and regret to his role. Of the wrestlers, only Cena is given more than a few lines to cope with, while McMahon reprises his brash TV character with mixed results (sometimes he doesn’t even sound like himself). Brandon Vietti’s direction is confident though at times a little too sincere in its depiction of the WWE universe, the animation is of an acceptable standard but rarely breaks free of its own restrictions, and the songs added here and there are sadly annoying rather than an effective addition to the proceedings. And the times spent on the production is given away by the prominence given to Sin Cara; now his current status is very much that of a second-string wrestler.
Rating: 6/10 – a middling entry in the series with its predictable plot proving particularly weak; a mash-up that still works by and large, but which will probably please fans of WWE more than those of Scooby-Doo.