Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000) – The 3rd Direct-to-Video Animated Scooby-Doo Movie – Directed by Jim Stenstrum – Starring Scott Innes, Frank Welker, Mary Kay Bergman, B.J. Ward, and Mark Hamill.
After firmly establishing that the new era of the Scoobyverse is going to include the actual supernatural and not just people in masks and rubber suits, SCOOBY-DOO AND THE ALIEN INVADERS cleverly plays with audience expectations of the new status quo, reverting back to the old formula of the bad guys being humans in masks pretending to be aliens, but also rolling with the new direction and having actual aliens pretending to be humans.
When ALIEN is at its most effective is when its slyly subverting your expectations; because the presence of the supernatural has been established in the previous two movies, they front the existence of large, green-skinned aliens that have been appearing on the edges of a small town in the American southwest. That the film doesn’t hide the aliens is a good tip-off that something is up, but the filmmakers go to some lengths to make you believe they’re legit aliens: they’ve got a spaceship and Scooby and Shaggy are captured and prepared for alien experimentation. They put a lot of effort into the swerve – if you’re an adult, you can see it coming, but I bet if you’re a kid, ALIEN blows your mind when the double reveal happens.
I like, too, how ALIEN gives Shaggy and Scooby a reason to be afraid. The Mystery Machine crashes in the desert, and when Fred, Velma, and Daphne head off to find help at a nearby town, Shaggy and Scooby are abducted by the “aliens.” It’s a good set-up that puts Shaggy and Scooby in the front of the story for reasons other than they’re the most popular characters.
In town, Fred, Daphne, and Velma meet a local who swears he’s been abducted and he represents the kind of lunatic fringe that Mystery, Inc.’s preference to look for the natural solution stands in binary opposition, too.
The one part of ALIEN that doesn’t work for me is the inclusion of love interests for Shaggy and Scooby in the form of Crystal, a hippie-ish photographer, and her golden retriever, Amber. I’m not opposed to Shaggy and Scooby falling head over heels for respective someones, but the effect that Crystal and Amber have on them. Crystal is all sorts of ideal for Shaggy, so it’s odd that his reaction to meeting her is to try and be someone else. I could see that happening if Crystal was archly conservative banker, or something, and so Shaggy felt his lifestyle made him inadequate for her, but having that reaction to Crystal feels off.
Also, he sings a terrible song called, “Groovy,” fantasizing about their future together.
Daphne and Velma get a little catty, too, over this development, finding the idea of Shaggy and Scooby interested in someone to be worthy of some behind-their-backs laughter.
ALIEN could also do a better job building up suspects because it’s clear right from the start whose faces are going to be beneath those alien masks, but it’s still an enjoyable and compact 70-minute movie.