Courage the Cowardly Dog. While some kids had Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark?, I had a little pink dog teach me the definition of horror, and boy did he do a good job. Courage was this perfect blend of comedy and horror that I do not think I have ever seen properly recreated, and I think most of it has to do with the simplicity of the plot. Courage, a nervous dog, is trying to protect his owners, Muriel and Eustace Bagge, from all kinds of “freaky stuff” that happens in their hometown of Nowhere. Some episodes still haunt my dreams, like “Windmill Vandals” or “The Curse Of King Ramses.” If you have never sat down and watched the original series, I would highly recommend it. I wish I could say the same for Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-doo! meets Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Straight Outta Nowhere is the 36th straight to DVD schlock pushed out of the Scooby-Doo franchise. As a Scooby-Doo movie, it’s about as forgettable as the rest, aside from Zombie Island and that time Scooby-Doo fought John Cena. As a Courage The Cowardly Dog movie, it’s average, at best.
“The Things I Do For Love”
Let us start with our story. It is a bit contrived, but I am happy they went right to the crossover instead of trying to drag out the opening. It follows the Scooby-Doo formula to a T. Find clues, make a plan, catch and unmask the villain. There are a few interesting moments where the Scooby Gang has to come to terms with the absolute madness that is Nowhere, but they often overlook it or only briefly mention it and move on. The focus is more so on how the Scooby-Doo gang interacts with The Bagge Family.
Muriel, voiced by Thea White, is an absolute gem, a loving grandma that provides a straight man for the rest of the gang to bounce off of. Eustace, voiced by Jeff Bergman, is just as greedy and cruel as I remember him being. White did an excellent job reprising her role as Muriel, and the nostalgia from hearing her voice again was heartwarming. Eustace’s voice is a bit more difficult to nail down, as his two previous voice actors have passed away. Jeff Bergman does his best, but he doesn’t quite reach a good impersonation. He just needed to work on it for a little bit longer, and I bet he could have nailed it.
The Scooby-Doo cast is voiced by all the usuals, Frank Welker voicing Fred and Scooby, Grey Griffin voicing Daphne, and Matthew Lillard voicing Shaggy. Kate Micucci, who voices Velma, is the newest addition to the cast, added in 2015 and long after I stopped watching Scooby-Doo films. It took a moment to adjust, but she provides a good interpretation of Velma Dinkley, though it’s far from my favorite interpretation. There’s nothing phenomenal here, but is mostly what you would expect from the Scooby-Doo cast.
When it comes to character interactions, Courage and Scooby-Doo spend most of the special working together. Courage leans into bits with Shaggy and Scooby, performing skits with them or joining them in their insatiable hunger for Scooby Snacks. If I had one complaint with how Courage was portrayed, his babbling talk was much more prevalent in this movie than I remember it being in the original show. Courage usually spoke in sentences, but then would begin babbling when he was scared. This could also be because there are eight main characters, most of which spend a lot of time talking.
Muriel offers a sort of calming presence throughout the film. Muriel in the original show often did not realize the danger she was in until it was too late, but the movie was able to avoid this in a way that made her feel charming, rather than just oblivious.
Then we get to Eustace. Eustace doesn’t have much overall presence in the film, as the writers attempt to make him a red herring. One of the biggest drawbacks of this movie is the fact that they made Eustace, an old man, rap with his shirt off about how he was going to get rich. It’s about equal parts uncomfortable and funny, but doesn’t match the tone of the original show. This is not to mean singing was not allowed, (I mean there was a whole episode around Opera singing!) but it just feels so out of character that I hope they just threw in the reused animation and stills to pad out the run time.
“Stupid Dog! You Made Me Look Bad!”
What about the animation? Crossovers can be difficult, as some art styles do not blend together well. As for Courage and Scooby-Doo’s animation, it is similar enough that nothing jumps out as being disjointed on the surface. There are times when Courage’s more uncanny animation style will break the illusion, but these are few and far between. Even then, because these uncanny moments are usually completely out of nowhere, you will probably find yourself laughing instead.
I did notice more than one moment in which the animation was sped up instead of animating the scene to be faster, which is a big issue in my view. Speeding up the animation always looks messy, and you can always see when it’s happening. For example, there was a fight scene with some sentient furniture (pretty normal for Nowhere) where I believe Daphne quickly swings a chair leg at a couch. You can see Scooby and Shaggy cowering in a corner in the same shot. Both are moving at the exact same quickened pace.
If you are a Courage fan, you will absolutely get a kick out of how many great references there are in this movie. While I was not keeping count, there was a whole room filled with easter eggs waiting to be picked over by viewers. We also have a few returning characters or scenes from previous episodes, and one of the major plot devices of the movie includes a remixed version of the “Crisis Theme” which would play in nearly every episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog. (It goes “Bum-Bum-Bum-Bum-Bumbum”, if that jogs your memory.)There’s way more easter eggs throughout the film, and make for a fun treasure hunt.
Overall, the film is alright. I would say that, if this did not include Courage, it would be another boring Scooby-Doo film. With the addition of a certain cowardly dog, it’s able to make itself stand out just a bit more than its contemporaries. If you like Courage, and are desperate for any sort of new content, it’s worth a watch.
Featured Image: IMDB