REVIEW: Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog

The moment I heard Warner Bros. was releasing a Scooby-Doo/Courage the Cowardly Dog crossover movie, I knew I had to watch it. I’ve loved Scooby-Doo for as long as I can remember. And watching Courage the Cowardly Dog was a foundational part of my early media exposure. So, the idea of combining these two franchises immediately grabbed my attention. And, honestly, it’s ludicrous that a crossover hadn’t been done already. Because Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog is an utterly delightful film. Sure, there’s not enough plot to fill out the runtime, and the mystery isn’t the most captivating. But the movie so openly embraces the absurdity of both franchises that it’s very easy to just go along with it and enjoy the ride. (4 out of 5 wands.)

Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog
(written by Michael Ryan, directed by Cecilia Aranovich)
An original animated feature so exciting it’s scratching at the door! Comedy is unleashed when Scooby-Doo, your favorite mystery-solving mutt, teams up for the first time with Courage the Cowardly Dog. The canine colleagues sniff out a strange object in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas, the backwoods hometown of Courage and his owners, Eustace and Muriel Bagge. Soon, the mysterious discovery puts them on the trail of a giant cicada monster and her wacky winged warriors. Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy know that this job is too big for a flyswatter. They’ll need the help of the doggy duo to piece together the puzzle. Can Scooby and Courage overcome their jitters and defeat the insect army before the whole world bugs out?

Straight Outta Nowhere starts like any other Scooby-Doo movie, with the Mystery Inc. gang having just solved another mystery. Suddenly, Scooby (Frank Welker) hears a strange noise that makes him run away from the gang and towards the town of Nowhere. Meanwhile, in Nowhere, Courage the Cowardly Dog (Marty Grabstein) is hearing the same noise as Scooby and goes to investigate it. He quickly discovers Scooby, the Mystery Inc. gang, and a host of giant cicadas. And from there, it’s off to the races as Fred (Frank Welker), Daphne (Grey Griffin), Velma (Kate Micucci), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby work with Courage, Muriel (Thea White), and Eustace (Jeff Bergman) to get to the bottom of this mysterious noise and these scary cicadas.

In a movie like this, the plot was always going to take a backseat to the character work and humor. While it is a solid, though somewhat mundane, mashup of the Scooby-Doo and Courage formulas, it never quite sticks the landing with the mystery. The giant cicadas are well-designed, but they lack the flair of the best Courage monsters – many of whom are even referenced in the movie. And the mystery is pretty much unsolvable – especially as more and more fantasy elements are added into the mix. The pacing is also a bit off, especially in the middle. You can feel how they’ve stretched the plot of a good 22-minute episode into an 80-something minute movie. There’s extra room for a lot of world-building and humor (all of which works very well), but it does rob the movie of any real tension or forward momentum.

However, that’s ultimately not much of a problem. The true joy is in seeing these two worlds combine, and in watching these characters interact. As you might expect, Courage, Scooby, and Shaggy take center stage. And their dynamic is absolutely brilliant. As the movie starts, we learn that Scooby and Shaggy are using a self-help audiobook to work through their fears. It’s a great idea, and one that’s used to great effect as the trio learns to find their inner bravery. Their interactions are also incredibly funny, too. There’s a recurring gag throughout the movie where Shaggy refers to Courage simply as “little pink dude.” And every time he said it, it never stopped being funny. Plus, there’s just something fun about seeing Shaggy and Scooby dealing with Courage, who relies even more on his trademark pantomiming. It’s all a bit of absurd fun, and I love it.

The rest of the characters don’t get quite as much attention. But it is still nice seeing them again. It’s been nearly twenty years since Courage the Cowardly Dog ended, and I deeply enjoyed getting to revisit these characters that I loved. Eustace is having the time of his life throughout the movie – even if he’s as grumpy as ever. I mean, the man has three cowards he can scare whenever he wants. What’s a greater joy than that? As for Fred, Daphne, and Velma, most of their scenes are spent with Muriel, who is trying to understand what Mystery Inc. actually does, but never quite manages to. And these scenes are super sweet and super funny. They’re also the scenes that contain the most world-building. If you’ve ever wondered why Nowhere is as weird as it is, Straight Outta Nowhere takes a few steps towards answering that question – though never actually commits to any one answer. This isn’t world-building for the sake of world-building, though, as the information the Mystery Inc. gang learns about the town factors pretty heavily into the movie’s climax.

While the narrative has some definite pros and cons, the technical elements are a great success. The animation is quite good. It feels like a perfect mashup of the visual stylings of Scooby-Doo and Courage. Everything just looks great and meshes together well. And the same goes for the voice cast, who all do fabulous work. On the Scooby-Doo side of things, all four of the most recent actors reprise their roles. Matthew Lillard continues to show why he’s one of the best Shaggy’s to date. Frank Welker’s Scooby and Fred are as iconic as ever. And Grey Griffin and Kate Micucci both perfectly embody Daphne and Velma, respectively. However, I was most delighted to hear Marty Grabstein and Thea White reprise their roles as Courage and Muriel, respectively. It’s been so long since I’ve heard them, and hearing them here gave me an immediate burst of nostalgia. They sound exactly the same as I remember them, and they both do a marvelous job. Jeff Bergman takes over for Eustace in this movie, and in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have realized he wasn’t the original voice actor for Eustace if I didn’t already know it. Eustace isn’t given a whole lot to do here, but Bergman does a great job anyway.

At the end of the day, Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog gave me exactly what I wanted. The plot is a bit nonsensical, the mystery isn’t super interesting, and the pacing is all over the place. But the vast majority of the jokes are gut-bustingly funny, the character moments are well-executed, and the film is generally unafraid to lean into the sheer absurdity that makes up the Scooby-Doo and Courage universes. As a fan of both of these franchises, I had so much fun with this movie. It made my inner child squeal with delight, and I’d gladly watch this movie again and again. If anything, I hope Straight Outta Nowhere revitalizes interest in the Courage series. I’d love to see some kind of revival there – especially if it meant further crossovers between the Mystery Inc. gang and Courage, Eustace, and Muriel. If you’re a fan of either of these shows, you’ll have a great time with this movie.

4 out of 5 wands.

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