Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog is a movie that should have been made two decades ago.
That’s not a knock against the movie mind you, but an acknowledgement that a crossover like this is way, WAY past its prime. While Scooby-Doo as a franchise has stayed in the popular consciousness for generations, Courage the Cowardly Dog simply hasn’t. It was a Cartoon Network series that aired from 1999-2002 and survived after that through syndication. To launch any new installment so long after a series concluded just feels puzzling. Why now? Is the Courage the Cowardly Dog fandom really that strong? Even then, would people even see Straight Outta Nowhere knowing that Courage was back?
If you do decide to shell out the money to see this movie, while it’s not exactly a memorable or even particularly well executed Scooby-Doo movie, it’s a lovely reminder of what made Courage the Cowardly Dog such a strange and singular experience that deserves more attention and praise.
Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog
Release Date: September 14, 2021 (VOD/DVD)
After nabbing their latest crook, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) is overcome by some mysterious noise that drives him crazy and makes him run to Nowhere, Kansas. While Mystery Inc. gives chase, Scooby eventually winds up at the Bagge residence, where he meets Courage the Cowardly Dog (Marty Grabstein), as well as his owners Murial (Thea White, may she rest in peace) and Eustace (Jeff Bergman). Upon arriving in Nowhere, the group is attacked by giant cicadas, forcing the two parties to come together to figure out just what is causing all of the strange occurrences in Nowhere and why the cicada army is attacking them.
While having some familiarity with Scooby-Doo is recommended for a movie like this, if you’re watching this movie then you need to know who and what Courage the Cowardly Dog is. The movie makes constant asides and references to previous characters on the show and uses plenty of running jokes from the series, like Eustace scaring Courage with his giant mask. The film doesn’t really do much to explain any of these to newcomers and most likely the mysteries of Nowhere, Kansas will just seem odd without any real context. You can survive without it, but it is recommended you watch at least some Courage before going into this.
As someone who is familiar with Courage though, Straight Outta Nowhere makes some pretty surface-level reference that nevertheless delight. This movie isn’t afraid to bring back some more excentric reactions for Courage and Scooby-Doo, evoking that classic early 2000’s children’s horror pretty effectively. It does look a bit too clean at times and restrains itself from giving off unsettling vibes, so you won’t see Ramses pop up here. The Courage love feels appreciated, but not wholly authentic.
Still, the Courage elements really make the movie shine as the entirety of Mystery Inc. just feel there without any real rhyme or reason. Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) has a running gag about him listening to self-help recordings, but outside of Velma being frustrated that she can’t solve Muriel’s riddles, they don’t do much for the entirety of the movie. Your typical Scooby-Doo jokes are here (tricking the monster with a disguise, a hallway door chase, and the inevitable reveal of who was behind everything), but it almost feels obligatory. Just to fill the quota of what audiences are to expect from Scooby-Doo because Straight Outta Nowhere caters to those long-time Courage fans.
The film struggles at time to reach a feature-length runtime, peppering the proceedings with jokes that don’t quite land. There’s a musical number towards the middle of the film that feels especially forced and jokes related to Young Frankenstein of all things that felt especially off. But that’s not to dismiss the jokes where the Scooby-Doo cast plays off of the strangeness of Courage’s world. Seeing Courage’s ultra-smart Windows 98 PC seduce Velma’s tablet was comedy gold, as well as how Mystery Inc. can’t comprehend that talking animals with human characteristics aren’t just people wearing especially convincing animals costumes.
If anything, Straight Outta Nowhere made me pine for rewatching Courage the Cowardly Dog just in time for Halloween. It was a unique series that had a charm all of its own that even as tame as it was here, made my heart warm just revisiting this world. There is something to say though about how that’s a failure of the film. I have the urge to revisit the series now not because the movie was so good, but because it reminded me what I missed about the series that the film doesn’t fully execute. For a VOD kids movie, the least I can hope for is that now a new generation will want to visit Nowhere and see why Courage still is worth discussing two decades after it premiered.