Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (2003) Review

Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (2003)
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The Scooby-Doo movies of recent years have been generally warmly welcomed in our household. They tend to be of two schools: 1) more silly than serious, low on mystery, and catering to a young audience (Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School or Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf come to mind) and 2) more serious than silly, emphasizing mystery, and catering to an older audience (Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island or Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders come to mind). My wife and I enjoy Scooby-Doo and watch it with our children, but we try to stay away from the sillier films. This movie, Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico, looked to be of the more serious variety, so we bought it. Here are my thoughts:
The Animation: The first thing I noticed was that the movie opens with some nice animation eye-candy. (Generally, key scenes seem to begin with some startling visual, such as rippling water or flickering flames.) I thought the quasi-3D animation was a nice change from that seen on some of the previous Scooby-Doo movies.
The Plot: It is a more serious film: Fred's friends from Mexico are being terrorized by a monster of local legend prior to the Day of the Dead. Is the monster real or the fabrication of criminal minds? What differentiates this from the standard Scooby-Doo plot is the emphasis on the Mexican culture. Local customs (i.e. Day of the Dead) are introduced and explained. The folks in the Mexican village are treated respectfully. The gang and the audience learn some Spanish. This intimacy with the culture makes the monster's threat more significant. You do care what happens to Fred's friends and their neighbors. Initially, the plot seemed rather weak: the first half of the film deals with tracking a monster and the second half deals with the mystery. I wanted more mystery, but it seemed to take the gang a long time to realize that some detective work was required. Upon reflection, I see that the pacing was deliberate to allow the locals to contribute significantly to the gang's detective work; it's a group effort.
The Problem: I enjoyed this movie until the obligatory chase scene, which grew increasingly incredible. I thought I had the mystery all figured out--I was disappointed that I was way ahead of Velma so soon--and then found myself confused by the strange events occurring during the chase. Although all is explained later--and more satisfactorily than in Legend of the Vampire--I thought it was too over-the-top. It didn't help that the accompanying song grew rather tedious. Also, it made the movie feel too long.
Overall: I enjoyed this movie, especially its respect for Mexican culture and the Mexican characters, which, not being dumbed down, reacted normally toward some of the weird events, especially near the end. I dislike the obligatory chase scene, but I realize that this is for the young audience (my son loved this part). I would have preferred more mystery, but it does play out rather naturally. Considering the reactions of both myself and my children, I recommend this latest installment in the Scooby-Doo movie series. Although it has its flaws, I think it makes for a pretty good time. Adults will like it, and kids will probably love it.

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New direct-to-video feature-length movie. Scooby-Doo and the gang visit a friend in Mexico to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Mexico's version of Halloween). Unfortunately, a monster appears and begins terrorizing the town.
DVD Features:Audio CommentaryDVD ROM FeaturesFeaturetteOuttakesPhoto galleryTheatrical Trailer

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