Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Genres - Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Fantasy Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 26, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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While this film's antecedent disappointed long-time Scooby-Doo fans, the film did play well to children. The sequel feels aimed at a slightly older crowd -- ten-year-olds rather than seven-year-olds. Thematically speaking, James Gunn's script is rather fairly well thought out. The recurring lesson, that people must be confident enough to be who they are, works well considering that Mystery Inc. is forever exposing bad guys pretending to be ghosts and ghouls. This thematic structure also allows Shaggy and Scooby to be heroes, seeing as they are always nothing but themselves. The film starts strong with a funny, and smarter than one might expect, opening sequence that includes a very humorous exchange between the nerdy Velma (Linda Cardellini) and the equally awkward Patrick Wisely, played by the reliable Seth Green. Thanks to Cardellini's fine work and the deepening of her character, their tentative romance provides some of the film's most enjoyable moments. Once again, this film belongs to Matthew Lillard, who so unselfconsciously becomes a manifestation of the cartoon Shaggy that it is easy to forget that one isn't watching the old animated figure. While Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar can never completely shed the appearance that they think this material is beneath them, Lillard once again embraces the challenge of playing a cartoon and once again pulls it off with welcome aplomb. Better-written, funnier, scarier, and containing a better mystery than the first film, Scooby-Doo 2 still falls just short of actually being a good film. But those who found elements to admire in the first film will not be disappointed by this follow-up.