Daphne & Velma
Thanks to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, who gave me a copy of this Scooby-Doo live-action prequel, I was able to check out Daphne & Velma.
This G-rated original movie runs an hour and fifteen minutes, and we found it too long at that. The plot is predictable, and the visual quality is that of a Disney kids’ sitcom. That’s the audience they’re going for, but while some kids’ movies are widely enjoyable, this unfortunately falls into the category of “dumbing things down”. It’s a shame something with so much potential is so boring, but at least I got a brief nap out of it.
The goals are admirable — the few extra features (see below) focus on emphasizing how they wanted to bring girl power into Scooby-Doo — but the reality is that these could have been any two girls with different names, and the story wouldn’t have needed to change, showing just how loose the connections are to the inspiring property.
The globe-trotting Daphne (Sarah Jeffery) finally gets to meet online BFF Velma (Sarah Gilman) in real life when she moves to Ridge Valley, California. She fits in immediately, because she’s got the best luck, but at first, Velma is a loner who won’t talk to her.
They’re attending a tech-heavy school. Ridge Valley High is an “innovative center for learning” created by a rich techie responsible for a YouTube-like chat and video app. However, the talented top students are being turned into idiots. The promo material asks, “Can Daphne and Velma learn to work together and save the students?” Well, of course, they do.
Daphne likes the possibility of ghosts and aliens when mysterious things keep happening, but Velma always brings the science. Daphne’s fake-looking hair was a continuing distraction, but I loved her purple velvet biker jacket. Velma wears red instead of orange much of the time, a better choice. The other distraction was the soundtrack, where generic pop alternates with wannabe creepy theremin-like noises.
As I mentioned, the special feature “Daphne & Velma: A New Ambition” is five minutes on how they reimagined the characters to demonstrate “the power of the female friendship” and be lead charaacters, as discussed by producer/director Suzi Yoonessi, producers Ashley and Jennifer Tisdale, and cast members. They aimed for a stronger, tougher, clever Daphne and cooler (“but still smart”) Velma. Which is great, but if the kid viewer wants to see more with these characters, they’ve going to get the previous, sidekick versions, particularly since every feature ends with a blurb promoting the original cartoons. (And they weren’t the first to do it, anyway, since the previous live-action movies moved in that direction as well.)
“An Updated Classic Mystery” (five minutes) is everyone talking about how they modernized everything, but with plenty of humor added. “Iconic Styles of Daphne & Velma Reimagined” is six minutes of the outfits. Plus there’s a six-minute gag reel. Daphne & Velma is out on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital May 22.