Well, we wouldn't quite call it pleasant but it was a surprise, all right. Bucking against expectations, Warner Bros' gaudy Scooby-Doo adap was one of 2002's most profitable movies, raking in £21 million in the UK alone. So, just a case of Happy-Meal-hype over content? Kind of - - while the original had its thick, scarfed tongue lolling in its chipmunked cheek and some daft, winking subversions, the overriding impression was one of a multi-genre mongrel unsure of its target audience: Farrelly-lite yuk-yaks for the kids, phoney-Matrix chopsocky for the teens, shuttering ironic winks for nostalgia-fogged stoners.
It's safe to say that in the in-joke-drained Scooby-Doo 2, director Raja Gosnell has finally found a voice for his franchise doggie bag. That voice being a screeching, hysterical pre-pubescent. Sounds bad, but if you're a screeching hysterical pre-pubescent yourself, you'll be in hog heaven. There are fart gags. There are gungings. There's racket and din and a constant, popping-bubblegum score. It's like SM:TV repositioned on a runaway ghost train. Driven by a talking dog.
So, how is the pixellated mutt? Minus a nightmarish two-legged dance sequence, Scooby's certainly a more bearable proposition, although it's his human co-star that makes him live. It must be odd knowing you've found your career-defining role filling out a 2-D cartoon character, but that's exactly what's happened to Lillard. It's more bang-on impersonation than real performance, but his uncanny Shaggy is a twangy, breezy, loping thing - funny, amiable, a cut above the clunking script.
Still, the cast gel well almost in spite of the headless-chicken plot that's too busy letting off the next flashing salvo of day-glo effects to make any sense. In one eye and out of the other, generous-moded adults will enjoy it for what it is: feelgood comfort-junk. Accompanying sprogs will lap it up. But a Scooby-Doo 3? Pushing its luck.