Sometimes the universe hands you a gift. The forces of the universe come together at exactly the right moment to reveal unto a person something that they never knew that they wanted until they saw that it existed. That’s how I felt once I heard about this movie, Scooby Doo and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon. It was just the perfect bit of whack-a-doodle nuttery I needed at that moment.
It all started when I was watching Smackdown and this came on the screen:
Brilliantly executed nonsense such as this merited further investigation, and soon the plot of this new animated movie was revealed to me. Mystery Inc. once again teams with the WWE when their new off-road challenge featuring Superstar teams in their own custom rigs is threatened by a demon driver! This level of outright, bug-eyed bonkers ridiculousness could not go by without a watch!
The animation here is mostly good, but it is easy to see where they cut corners, particularly when it comes to the backgrounds and individual character reactions. The Superstar character designs are solid, properly infusing each character’s personality and maintaining a good likeness while keeping in with the traditional Scooby-Doo art-style. The fight scenes blast past any sense of realism and go for a more superhero level of combat. This works towards the movie’s advantage, as a more grounded and technical style of combat wouldn’t have fit the tone and would’ve ruined the immersion.
The cars are also CGI, which was probably done to save time and money, but to the animators’ credit, while the CGI effect is easy to spot, it blends well enough with everything else so that it is never too distracting, and you always have a clear understanding of what’s going on.
I have to praise this movie for the level of character work for Scooby and the gang, as well as being clever with the Scooby-Doo “continuity.” The movie remembers that this isn’t the first WWE/Scooby movie, and makes a few callbacks to that previous film to help speed the story along and maintain the integrity of the plot. For example, in the last movie, Shaggy and Scooby ended up competing in an official WWE match, making them “Superstars” which allows them to join the Undertaker’s team without issue.
In fact, the whole paring of the Deadman with Scooby and Shaggy is one of the better ideas in the film. As the pair are supposed to be long standing WWE fans, it makes sense that they would also be Undertaker fans (you don’t talk in wrestling circles without at the very least respecting the Undertaker), but they’re also world class “fraidy” cats, and Undertaker is one menacing and spooky dude. This leads to several fun scenes where Scooby and Shaggy are equal parts excited and terrified by the Undertaker, thus presenting a new take on Shaggy and Scooby’s cowardly personalities.
Daphne and Velma are given plenty to do as well. Daphne, who’s not that interested in the WWE, finds herself drawn to Stephanie McMahon as they both come from money. Velma, who was established as a well versed fan of the WWE, knows Stephanie and Hunter’s well earned bad reputation. She is highly suspicious of the pair, and is concerned/slightly jealous about Daphne spending so much time with Stephanie. It allows the movie to show more than one side of these ladies, and adds some much appreciated depth and a chance to interact with each other in a way that we normally do not get to see from them.
Fred on the other hand turns his engineering know-how, which he’s displayed for years with his traps, to build and repair the vehicles Scooby, Shaggy and Undertaker use throughout the movie. Once again, it’s something in line with the character, but different from what we’ve come to expect from these characters.
However, all is not sunshine and lollypops. While the voice work for the Mystery Inc. crew is top notch, the same can’t be said for the WWE. Some of the line reads come off a wee bit flat. This is understandable as the Superstars aren’t trained VO actors, but I’ve heard them give better performances during WWE events then what we find here. The comedy hits more than it misses and has a nice natural flow to it, but when the Superstars launch into one of their bits, or throw out one of their catchphrases, it can feel slightly stilted and out of place.
The Superstar selection itself is also questionable. It can be months to years to get a project like this to completion, and as the WWE programming is an ever evolving narrative, the company has had several big shake-ups since this project was green-lit. Some of the wrestlers that are featured in the film are either no longer working for the WWE, have passed away, or are featuring looks/costumes that don’t resemble what they look like currently, and despite having a nice dedication to Dusty Rhodes, who appears in the film, that doesn’t make the movie feel any more behind the times.
Finally, the ultimate reveal of what is really going on lacks impact, and is more of a non-ending that brings the main story to a fitting but less than satisfactory end.
The film won’t convert anybody into a wrestling fan, but it is done well enough that even if you are a person who doesn’t know wrestling from a hole in the ground, you’ll most likely enjoy the movie for what it is. If you are a WWE/pro-wrestling fan or have kids that are, I would definitely say it’s worth watching. Personally, I enjoyed Scooby-Doo and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon in all its silliness, but it isn’t anything I’ll be coming back to.