Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 12, 2015)
Two legends from the 1970s join forces for a 2015 animated film called Scooby-Doo and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery. At a band-themed amusement park called Kiss World, the scary Crimson Witch (voiced by Pauley Perrette) demands “give me rock!”
The park’s authorities call in Mystery Inc. to work on this problem – or so most of the gang thinks. Daphne (Grey Griffin) wants to attend Kiss’s Halloween concert, so she lies to the others about the nature of their mission.
Given the presence of the Crimson Witch, though, the Mystery Inc. members come in handy. Along with the musicians of Kiss themselves, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) and his pals attempt to figure out the secret of the park’s haunting.
When I heard of the existence of Rock and Roll Mystery, I thought it was a joke. Sure, Kiss leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley always seem eager and willing to sell any form of Kiss-related product they can imagine, but Kiss as part of a kid-oriented Scooby-Doo cartoon – that couldn’t be real, could it?
As this review attests, it could, and it is. The bizarre nature of the program meant that I just had to give it a look.
Back in their respective heydays, I loved Kiss but I just sort of liked Scooby-Doo. Even during my Saturday morning cartoon-loving childhood in the 70s, Scooby just wasn’t a big favorite of mine. I watched it – crud, I’d have watched a cartoon about mulch if it showed up on Saturday AM – but I never felt especially enchanted by Scooby and the gang.
The characters on display in Mystery owe a lot more to their incarnations in the 2002 live-action movie, though. Mystery presents the personalities and situations in a winking/self-aware manner that echoes the film, so it seems more ironic and witty than the original series. Heck, it even brings back the movie’s Matthew Lillard to play Shaggy.
The various forms of self-mockery become the most amusing aspects of Mystery, and these moments aren’t limited to the Mystery Inc. gang. Kiss pokes fun of themselves, especially their tendency to do anything for a buck. Via their manager (Doc McGhee), we see running gags about Kiss merchandise run amok, and a few other similar gags crop up as well. Fans will notice a mix of Kiss-related inside jokes, such as a character named “Shandi Strutter”, a moniker that combines the titles of two Kiss tunes.
Intellectually, I know Mystery exists for no reason other than as product, but doggone it, I think it’s moderately likable product. Does it provide an interesting plot? Nope. Is there anything especially creative about it? Nope. Does it often feel like 79 minutes of promotion for Kiss? Yup.
And the animation bites, too! Despite all those flaws, Mystery still comes with some entertainment value, mainly due to the way in which it never takes itself seriously. In particular, moments unrelated to the titular narrative work best. We never care about the Crimson Witch, but the goofy way in which Mystery Inc. and Kiss interact becomes amusing.
Mystery also comes with a surprisingly strong roster of cameos. Some make sense – like actual Kiss manager McGhee as their cartoon leader – but others come out of left field. Who’d expect both Penny and Garry Marshall in a Scooby-Doo cartoon? Or Darius Rucker?
The movie gives us goofy fun that pokes fun at all involved. Rock and Roll Mystery might be cheap promotion, but it’s still entertaining.