Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000)
Directed by Jim Stenstrum

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders is a work of groundbreaking animation and storytelling, that eclipses even the legendary anime of Akira and Princess Mononoke. Every frame is infused with mind-boggling artistry … ah, who the hell am I kidding.

SD&AI is nothing more or less than an extended episode of "Scooby-Doo." It finds the Mystery, Inc., gang driving through the Southwest and encountering an alien spaceship, some crazy locals, top-secret military police, and a group of nerdy astronomers searching the skies for alien radio signals.

The whole Scooby gang is here, as opposed to the TV shows from the late 70s/early 80s that replaced everyone but Scooby and Shaggy with any number of pointless sidekicks. But though Daphne, Velma ,and Fred make appearances, this is, as it should be, Scooby and Shaggy's show.

At one point, Shaggy and Scooby are abducted by aliens who put suction cups on them, causing them to giggle. Another scene has the same aliens chasing the duo on hover-jets. They also meet a pretty Native American girl and her pretty dog, and both our heroes fall hopelessly in love. This results in an extended, psychedelic musical number sung by Shaggy. The heroes also get to eat several stacks of pancakes in the ubiquitous roadside diner.

I won't spoil anyone's appetite for this straight-to-video delight by revealing that the "aliens" are in fact the astronomers, who have discovered a huge reserve of unmined gold in the nearby mountains, and are using the alien/UFO ploy, plus a fake top-secret military installation, to keep people away from their mother lode.

A bit of a surprise, since one never expects the friendly nerds to be bad guys, but then, the lead nerd was voiced by Mark Hamill, who now specializes in cartoon villains, so perhaps it was predictable, I really don't know as I spent most of the movie writing other Loud Bassoon reviews.

Voice talent is acceptably undistinguished, with some new dude lending his chords as Shaggy and Scooby, close enough that I wasn't sure until the credits whether it was Casey Kasem or not. Animation is perfectly serviceable for this kind of product, and the musical numbers are quaintly cheesy.

Jennifer Love-Hewitt appears on the soundtrack, singing a revved-up techno version of the Scooby-Doo theme, a totally unnecessary cover, all the more lame since it's obvious Love-Hewitt was still quite young when she did this, and very much into glitter makeup (there's a making-of on the DVD with a mercifully brief interview with Love-Hewitt), begging the question, "When's she gonna do some quality nudity?"

I've always had a soft spot for the repetitive laziness of Scooby-Doo cartoons in all their plentiful incarnations, and it means little that this one was made more recently, or the voices are new, or the new middle-aged looking Daphne is bereft of schoolgirl skirt.

Thankfully, Scooby-Doo continues to retain its traditional lack of hipness or cultural relevance (unlike, say Space Ghost Coast to Coast), which renders this video completely timeless and harmless, though it does try to cash in on the late 1990s fascination with aliens and UFOs.

Had it tried to be "extreme" or "total" in any way, SD&AI would have been completely insufferable; in this case, it's simply there as filler, only marginally capable of holding a youngin's attention, and worth the rental only if your kid's other options are The Care Bears Christmas and/or Caligula.

Review by Crimedog