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  Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold Jinkies!  It's the Caped Crusader!
Year: 2018
Director: Jake Castorena
Stars: Frank Welker, Diedrich Bader, Matthew Lillard, Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, Jeff Bennett, Jeffrey Combs, John DiMaggio, Nika Futterman, Nicholas Guest, John Michael Higgins, Tom Kenny, Kevin Michael Richardson, Sam Riegel, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a haunted theater in Gotham City what seems like a routine ghost-debunking for a newly-arrived Scooby-Doo (voiced by Frank Welker), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), Fred (Frank Welker again), Velma (Kate Micucci) and Daphne (Grey Griffin) proves anything but when in swoops Batman (Diedrich Bader)! Turns out the case was a merely a test set-up by an impressed Batman as a means to induct the crime-solving teenagers into the Mystery Analysts of Gotham. Before long the thrilled Scooby Gang are rubbing shoulders with other superheroes at the secret headquarters. But then the sudden arrival of a vengeful villain called the Crimson Cloak draws Mystery Inc. into a hair-raising adventure involving a missing scientist, a veritable rogue's gallery of Batman foes and the one case the Caped Crusader could never solve.

Of course Scooby and the gang had met Batman (and Robin) before way back in a 1972 episode of The New Scooby Doo Movies. And teamed up with him again in the 2019 series Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? with fan-favourite Kevin Conroy voicing the Dark Knight. Here it is sitcom regular Diedrich Bader reprising the role for what, in addition to being the thirteenth entry in the direct-to-video series of Scooby-Doo films, is also a feature-length spin-off Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The Silver Age-styled show, which ran from 2008 to 2011, paired Batman with a variety of classic characters from the DC universe. A tradition upheld here as we get to see Mystery Inc. interact with heroes like Aquaman (John DiMaggio), Detective Chimp (Kevin Michael Richardson) and even the Question (voiced by Re-Animator (1985) star Jeffrey Combs!). Among the memorable moments: Fred goes all weak at the knees over Black Canary (Grey Griffin, doing double duty), the Martian Manhunter (comedian and filmmaker Nicholas Guest) snags cookies away from Shaggy and Plastic Man (Tom Kenny) hits on Daphne though the latter proves far more excited when she winds up on Batman's lap! Along with that the film throws in a genuinely unnerving visit to Arkham Asylum where a jailbreak pits the terrified teen sleuths against virtually every major Batman foe, including a priceless food fight where Shaggy and Scoob take on an atypically malevolent Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (both voiced by the great Tara Strong).

Upholding a run of quality Scooby-Doo animated features screenwriter Paul Giacoppo, working from a story by James Tucker, maintains the series' playfully self-aware tone. Yet while the familiar zany Scooby-Doo hijinks ("There is no reason that should have worked", a baffled Batman remarks after watching Shaggy and Scooby bamboozle Bane) are genuinely charming and funny, the film also functions as a compelling Batman adventure. With a sense of fun absent from the last twenty years worth of live action outings. Offbeat and unusually smart, the central mystery weaves in a flashback to, of all things, Batman: Year One (2011) delving into Batman's guilt over failing to save a life. And ups the stakes with a Scooby-Doo first as the gang are actually framed as suspects and pursued by the DC heroes led by a hippie-hating Detective Harvey Bullock (Fred Tatasciore). Yup, he's here too. All of which only bolsters Velma's drive to help Batman crack that one unsolved case. That is when she isn't fan-girling over the Bat-Cave or pondering her own nagging mystery: who is Batman? The answer she and the rest of Mystery Inc. eventually arrive at is sweet enough even the Dark Knight cracks a smile.

Having cut his teeth on 2015 's Batman Unlimited TV series animator Jake Castorena - who followed this with another titanic team-up for the ages: Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019) - maintains a heady pace and runs through a veritable check-list of fan-pleasing moments. Among these Batman driving the Mystery Machine (though, upholding a gag from Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare (2010) Scooby himself shows he can handle the van like a canine Steve McQueen), in-jokes alluding to Don Knotts and Doctor Who, a delightful climax with the gang dressed up as the Bat family and a wholly unexpected homage to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) involving a pile of sentient goo wreaking havoc in the Bat-Cave. Keep watching for a neat last minute twist on the stock "if it weren't for you meddling kids" climax that leads into a heroic moment wherein Scooby-Doo earns Batman's gratitude along with what else but a Bat-Snack.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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