Welcome back to the latest Museums and the Movies! Today Our subject is a reboot of a childhood classic. Well, a sequel to the reboot. The first live action Scooby Doo film was a dream come true. It was one of those rarest of things; a TV show-turned Motion Picture that was actually good, breathing new life into the existing franchise whilst keeping true to the spirit of the original. Also, that twist at the end? Genius.
The first one was all about getting Mystery Inc. back together, the second was, I think, supposed to be a nostalgia-fest.
Scooby Doo 2, alas, was decidedly not great. It still has some charm to it, because, let’s face it, how can you hate Scooby Doo? However, it does have a museum in it. So grab some Scooby Snacks and let’s have a look.
A winged beast flies through an erratic urban landscape as the opening credits play on-screen. This mysterious monster’s destination? A museum of course. But which one? The Coolsonian Criminology Museum in the Scooby Gang’s home town of Coolsville. (Fun fact: the Vancouver Art Gallery was used as a filming location!)
It’s all very bright and colourful, with a touch of cartoon glamour, as if Hannah-Barbera had a crack at the Met Ball . Of course this is to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition chronicling the exploits of Mystery Inc. Although the exhibition is never named, the posters in the background are calling it “Creepy Capers Uncovered”. Let’s take a look inside…
As exhibition design goes, this is pretty basic. I kept an eagle-eye out for the interpretation and there was nothing! Although some brief exposition was given by the gang, how is a normal person supposed to recognise the 10,000 Volt Ghost without Velma’s help??
The costumes themselves look impressive enough, it must have been quite a challenge to recreate some of them from the original animations, but they are quite clearly costumes. You wonder how the Scooby Gang ever thought that these things could be supernatural…
“Remember,” says Daphne to a still-nervous Shaggy and Scooby, “They’re just costumes.”
Are they? One strong recurring theme in Museums in the Movies is that stuff comes alive in one way or another. Oh look…
But why? Well, along comes a costumed criminal for some more exposition…
In a nutshell, he wants to turn the tables on Scooby, Shaggy, et al by declaring “You’ll be the ones unmasked!”.
How very dramatic.
Hang on a second, the exhibition is supposed to be about them, so shouldn’t the museum be doing the unmasking instead of the villain? That’s what museums normally do when having a look back at someone’s career, like David Bowie at the V&A or Amy Winehouse at the Jewish Museum.
By usurping the museum’s role, could the villain be a personification of the revelatory aspects of the museum’s role? He always appears in costume in the museum, and is closely tied to the institution throughout the film.
The film even goes as far as hinting at the museum curator, played by Seth Green, being the villain. But why would a curator destroy the exhibition he’s been working so hard on?
The fishiness at the Coolsonian continues with Velma finding a secret door. Actually, is this fishy? The British Museum has a secret door, and the V&A have loads too there’s even secret tunnels in Brighton!
You know what, I think this is further proof of how amazing Velma is compared to the rest of the gang. Why is it named after the dog anyway? Velma is *clearly* the most valuable player on this team.
I have a theory on why the exhibition was trashed: it doesn’t tell the right story.
For this to be a proper retrospective, the origins need to be told, the Scooby Gang (or Velma Gang, let’s be honest here) didn’t form to fight the Black Knight Ghost in Season 1 episode 1, they were already friends. So why were objects like this old photo left out?
The exhibition, and subsequent destruction causes all of the heroes to go through an identity crisis, they question the metaphorical masks they wear and their roles within the team. Through going back to the roots of their story, they rediscover themselves. They find the story the exhibition should be telling.
Looking back though, the theory doesn’t fit with the actual unmasking of the actual villain. Who had very little to do with the museum, apart from hanging around there a lot. I think there was a re-write.
There’s loads to unpack from the museum in this movie: museums aren’t always a safe space, they make us question our history and we might not like the answers. There is a silver lining, although museums might make us see terrible things, they are a way to figure out who the real villains are (if you look closely enough).