Briefly put, Daphne & Velma was a very odd and silly movie, but in a way that really worked well. Or as Velma says, "It tastes like gerbil...but in a good way!" I would highly recommend that those who are worried about watching this film give it a fair chance. The biggest worry for most people seemed to be the feminist undertones, but honestly, they were barely noticeable in the film. This was a really fun little movie and I'm so glad I gave it a chance.
Before I get more into the review, I want to strongly recommend that those who have not seen the movie yet do not read this review, because there are spoilers ahead!
The movie begins with Daphne discussing the possibility of aliens on her web show. Her online friend, Velma, is a supportive yet critical fan of Daphne's and challenges her findings, because "there's always a rational explanation." Daphne then tells Velma that her mom (who travels around the world) has been transferred to Ridge Valley High, and Daphne will be going to school with her online bestie.
This scene is the one I had the most criticisms about. I would have liked to have seen Daphne and Velma becoming online friends, or at least interacting with each other a little more, before they immediately jumped to meeting each other in real life. When you think about it, it's pretty extraordinary to have an online friendship so strong that you actually meet each other "IRL" (as Daphne says)! I've actually never met an online friend in person, and very few people online even know my real first name. It would have been nice to have some buildup to this, so the audience could be excited along with Daphne and Velma. Instead, the film rushes this scene and takes away from what could have been a really sweet and friendship-building event.
Anyways, Velma seems a bit apprehensive about Daphne coming to her school, but Daphne doesn't seem to notice. She turns on her "pump up playlist" and goes down to eat her french toast breakfast, on her first day of high school.
Daphne goes to school and sees Velma, but Velma doesn't even acknowledge her. Meanwhile, Daphne meets her senior advisor Carol, and is nearly hit in the face with an energy-ball of some sort. Carol shows Daphne around the school, and explains the "Bloom Bracket" to her. The Bloom Bracket gives all of the student rankings, taking into account academics, extracurricular involvement and even social media posts. As Spencer says, "it's like a GPA on steroids!" Daphne meets Spencer and Mikayla, two intellectually bright students, and Spencer discusses an odd invention he wants to create, which would allow your phone to make a pie.
Carol and Daphne run into Velma, who is still acting strangely and is not speaking to Daphne at all. Daphne goes after Velma to talk to her, telling Carol she is Velma's friend, much to Carol's surprise because she does not believe Velma has any friends. Later that day, Velma runs into Daphne again, when the lights begin flickering and a ghastly noise is heard throughout the hallway. Velma lies to Daphne and says she is "going to the sports match...in the sports classroom" and pretends not to notice the odd occurrence. Daphne and Velma see Spencer walking through a secret passage in the lockers, appearing to be in a zombified trance. Velma tries to leave again and repeats that she needs to get to that "sports classroom." (fantastic joke btw, and a very Velma-ish thing to say haha).
All of a sudden, something runs into the two girls. Daphne sees it is her dad. Back at home, Daphne's dad confesses to her that he has been following her around everywhere all her life, and tries to make everything perfect for her. It is revealed that Nedley actually controls every detail of Daphne's life including making her french toast (even though he had made her eggs previously), throwing a button on the floor so Daphne wouldn't be hit by the energy-ball, being Daphne's "playlist controller" and playing her pump-up playlist, and even going so far as to dress up as a female lunch lady to serve her caviar in the lunch line.
In honesty, I genuinely felt sad for Daphne! It's crazy that her dad controlled her that much and did basically everything for her. However, it was very amusing watching him dance to Daphne's pump-up playlist lol. I really liked the callback to Daphne's parents names (Nedley and Elizabeth) from The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. They could have easily just made up names, so I thought it was cool they stayed consistent with the rest of the franchise. It was wonderful that they made Daphne's parents an interracial couple. Not that it's a big deal or anything, but IMO, it's good to see increasing representation in the media that there are other types of families besides the nuclear, same-race family that we seem to glorify in the US.
The next morning, Daphne has a bad start to her first day on her own, realizing "the violin serenade every morning must have been my dad" when her alarm clock goes off...well, just like any other alarm clock does. Daphne goes to school in an all-purple outfit, because her dad was apparently also her clothes closet (I'm confused though as to how, like was it a machine that he ran or was he actually picking out clothes for her every day?). Carol helps Daphne pick out a new more color-coordinated outfit when she gets to school, which is purple with aliens on it.
Daphne confronts Velma again, but she wants nothing to do with Daphne. After a cool reference to "The Curse of Crystal Cove" (it was nicely worked in too, it didn't feel forced at all), Velma tries to walk away. She accidentally runs into the school janitor, Three-Mop Maggie and wrecks her mop. The students quickly make a viral video of the incident, which was cheesy other than the "Dat mop life" caption (I think that's what it said, it flashed by within a second and was backwards on Daphne's phone). The janitor then storms away angry, because she's tired of dealing with "dat mop life."
Later, in science, Daphne tries to be partners with Velma, and she refuses until Daphne guilts her into doing so. Daphne notices Spencer acting very strangely, yet somehow no one other than her notices, despite that he is literally eating a paper towel. Velma then intentionally sabotages their experiment and splatters purple goo all over the two girls' clothes.
The girls are taken to the office of the school principal, who just happens to be Velma's aunt. They are asked to sit on "the best couch for conflict resolution" while the principal's "Timothy Bot" (basically like Alexa or Siri) goes haywire and begins calling "My Bad Boy." Daphne and Velma argue it out, and Velma reveals she just pretended to hate Daphne because she knew about what was going on with Spencer, and it's been happening for years. The girls eventually agree to solve the mystery together, after the couch nearly crushes them together. The principal comes back in and sees the girls have become friends again. Daphne tells the couch that "Velma totally sucks" so it will push her closer to Velma for a hug, which was sooo adorable! The Timothy Bot then uploads all of Principal Piper's bikini pictures to Facebook, much to her horror.
The next day, the two girls sneak out of an assembly where Tobias Bloom is presenting his latest invention, much to Daphne's frustration that she won't get pizza. Velma reveals to Daphne that she destroyed her robot child (who she unfortunately programmed to have human emotions - that was so sad lol) so she could create a formula to melt the locker where Spencer went through the secret passage. They melt the locker, but there is no secret passage, and they are caught by Three - no, make that Two Mop Mollie and sent to the principal's office again.
The principal, who apparently has no more disciplinary skills to offer, gives the girls "shame stickers" and asks them to tell her how shamed they feel. They also have cafeteria duty for a day, and run into Griffin Griffiths, the second hottest guy in school, and his dimwitted friends. I absolutely loved the dumb jocks in this film, they were so hilarious! Daphne mocks Griffin's "hot" status in school, but another kid accidentally hears it and believes they are talking about him in a flattering way. Velma's response is priceless here, particularly when he asks if they want to go out with him. "No, you should go away now." Rejected! haha
That brings us to the next scene, which is quite possibly one of my favorite scenes in the entire film. Daphne sees a lunch cart they could hide in and spy on Griffin, because she believes he may be behind Spencer's zombified state. She points for Velma to look, but Velma instead looks at the gym coach, who is about to eat a slice of pizza out of the garbage can. "No, Coach Williams, don't do it!" she yells. But it was no use, and he eats the pizza out of the trash and amusingly looks very pleased with himself for doing so. Even better was when Daphne redirects Velma's attention, and Velma looks again only to say "Oh no, he's doing it AGAIN!" lol.
Velma and Daphne enlist Carol's assistance to get on the lunch cart to spy on Griffin and his friends. Griffin and his friends discuss fatherhood, and Ryder says he wants to be a good dad. In a very amusing twist, Mike then announces that sometimes he wishes Ryder was HIS dad, because that's not awkward at all lol. My amusement with the dumb jocks continued as Mike suddenly becomes very paranoid and says "I'm being crazy again, aren't I?", and then jumps up as if he heard a wild animal when one of the girls accidentally bumps the cart. Griffin then says he has to leave because he forgot his phone in his locker, which has something very important on it. Daphne and Velma believe this is something to do with the mystery, so they follow him.
It's revealed that Griffin actually secretly likes to watch cat videos alone in the hallway. The girls see him watching one called "Cat Me If You Can" (It's actually listed in the end credits!), until suddenly, Griffin goes into a trance and goes through the secret passage like Spencer previously had. The girls are caught again by Principal Piper, who punishes them with the "Shame Drones." Sadly, the Shame Drones did not live up to their name and were pretty lame. The girls realize that whoever is on the top of the Bloom Bracket is being targeted, so Velma decides to put herself on top of the Bloom Bracket by sabotaging the other students.
There's a really sweet moment here, where Daphne assures Velma that "things are hard now, but they always get better." This film did a great job in making one of its main messages about optimism. In such a seemingly-scary, insecure world that we live in now, it's so important to remain optimistic and see the good in everything. It's a value I try to follow in life, especially with all the political drama and violence that's been plaguing the United States as of lately, and optimism honestly is what keeps me the happy person that I am and to believe in people, and life. I'm really glad the film touched on this message, as it's very important in this current cultural climate, especially for the children and teens growing up.
Velma makes it to the very top of the Bloom Bracket, only being held back by Mikayla, who we see earlier in the film with Spencer. The girls sabotage her art exhibit by turning the lights off, and inadvertently knocking over one of her pieces of artwork. Daphne sees a cloaked ghost, and accidentally discovers the secret passage which Griffin and Spencer went through. The girls run away from the ghost, in their classic running poses, and there's a fun little reference to Velma losing her glasses. Once in the secret passage, they find Mikayla, who has apparently been captured in the short time that it took to navigate the secret passage. The girls release her from the tube she is trapped in, and devise a plan to trap the ghost. They manage to trip the ghost, who is not actually a ghost, but really Daphne's dad in a bathrobe following her again.
Daphne is astonished her dad is still following her, and feels like he doesn't believe in her. Her dad then realizes that he is following Daphne because he is scared for her, rather than because she isn't smart or capable enough to live her life in the way she wants to. There's a sweet bonding moment, and Velma points out that Tobias Bloom would be the only one who knew how to invent such technology. Daphne's dad points out that there's a sticker which says "Tobias Bloom" on the machine that Mikayla was trapped in. Velma then scolds Daphne's dad and says not to ruin the girls' moment.
Honestly, this is really one of the few "feminist" scenes I can pinpoint in the film, and that's not even really much. The feminist thing was more of an undertone, and wasn't obtrusive at all to the plot. It's a great message to be putting out there to girls and women, young and old alike, that they can do anything they put their mind to and shouldn't ever feel second-best to men. The opposite is also true, though this message is important because it more often occurs with women than men.
The girls come up with a plan to expose Tobias Bloom and save their mother, who they video chatted with and were cut off after her mom encountered Bloom. The girls break into the building and bop the guard over the head with a small rock. It's difficult to hear, but Daphne's dad's commentary in the background is hilarious! (Did you just break into that building? You're grounded young lady...That's assault!) The girls go alone into the building and go into an elevator, where the lights are turned off and the classic "spooky eyes" scene is incorporated. The elevator is programmed to bring out the girls' greatest insecurities about themselves.
This scene had a really cool message too. Like it or not, we live in a society which tries to make us someone we're not and fit in with the latest trends. So many people are insecure about themselves, whether mentally with characteristics about their personalities, or physically with how your body looks. This movie sends a great message about being comfortable with who you are, whoever you are and facing up to your insecurities. This is such an important message which all viewers, young and old can relate to.
The elevator brings out Daphne and Velma's biggest insecurities, and to escape the elevator, they have to admit their flaws and think optimistically about themselves instead. They also had to fight off a pack of wolves...well, at least they would have, if Tobias Bloom would have remembered to put the wolves in the elevator. I found Daphne's huge insecurity about never having a female president interesting. It was a good, non-obtrusive way to work feminism into to the movie, but it also seemed odd that Daphne's "biggest insecurity" in life (which is said right before the president comment) was not having a female president. Though then again, if her dad has sheltered her so much, maybe it actually is her biggest insecurity!
The girls overcome their insecurities and admit to themselves they only human, so they are not perfect. They escape the elevator and run into Tobias Bloom, who reveals he has captured the brightest minds at Ridge Valley High and uses a machine to suck all of the intelligence and ideas out of them, so he can use them to make inventions for his own company. After they set Daphne's mom free and destroy all of Bloom's robotic spiders, they realize Tobias Bloom actually isn't human, but rather, a hologram being controlled by someone else.
The girls run into Carol, who reveals that she is the one controlling Tobias Bloom. She ran the entire company by herself, and had been kidnapping kids for years and placing them in tubes like the one they saw Mikayla in earlier. Daphne and Velma figure out that Carol is not actually a senior, but is actually 26. I found this whole dialogue hilarious, especially "well, you look great for 26!" Being in my mid-20's myself, I find it pretty amusing that kids and teenagers think I'm "old." However, I felt more explanation regarding Carol's plan would have been helpful. It's hard to imagine that Carol could have run the whole company (which is apparently world-famous, given Daphne's mom left a job in Tokyo to work for Tobias Bloom) for years by herself, without anyone knowing what she was doing or that Tobias Bloom was just a hologram. I think they could have made a really cool, intricate explanation to go along with it, but the "reveal" scene seemed very rushed to me and didn't make a lot of sense in hindsight.
I found it interesting that there were no ghosts or monsters in this movie at all. Even though it's uncharacteristic of a Scooby-Doo film, I felt they did a great job with the mystery overall. It does, however, make it a bit challenging in terms of the site's movie guide. I've been debating whether I should put "Tobias Bloom and Carol" as the villains, as the majority of people reading the movie guide are there because they want to read the summary before watching the movie, and I don't want to put a big glaring spoiler in the guide for those who haven't seen it. I think what I'm going to do is put the villain as "Hologram" along with a picture of Tobias Bloom while he's glitching, and thus distorted enough where you can't tell it's him, alleviating the spoiler issue while still accurately documenting who the villain is. I also wouldn't need to list Carol, as technically (at least how I saw it) she was the equivalent of the "unmasked" villain. If anyone has any other suggestions though, I'd be more than happy to hear them!
Anyways, Carol is arrested and the Bloom Bracket is taken down. The jocks are initially frustrated about it, but quickly come to the realization that the Bracket is literally a representation of societal peer pressure and how competitive our culture is. While this is a good message and a great reinforcer of the earlier "be your unique self" message, I still found the jocks' realization of this to be quite amusing, considering how dimwitted they acted throughout the rest of the film. Velma makes up with Three-Mop Maggie by giving her the mop she wrecked, Daphne makes up with her dad, Principal Piper continues dancing with her yogurt cup, and there's a sweet moment with the girls hugging Mikayla at her exhibit.
Overall, I thought this movie was terrific and one of my favorite Scooby films from more recent years. Between the great humor, interesting mystery and fantastic messages about self-confidence and being yourself, this film definitely accomplished what it set out to do and made for a very entertaining, silly movie. My only minor complaints were that the beginning scene, with Daphne and Velma becoming friends, felt a bit rushed, as well as Carol's explanation for her master plan lacking some clarity. Regardless, the movie was still great, and I would love to see a sequel! Given the sort-of cliffhanger ending, I think they could definitely make another movie without being repetitive or unoriginal. I've actually already watched this film twice since it came out!
Though the trailer worried me a bit, the acting was actually very good. I thought Sarah Jeffery's version of Daphne was very relatable, in fact I would say I'm a bit like Jeffery's Daphne in real-life, in the sense that I'm very optimistic and always have a lot of hope even when life isn't going great. Sarah Gilman's Velma stayed very true to the character, even down to her witty lines and dry humor from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. As I mentioned, I liked the dumb jocks a lot as well as Principal Piper. I also thought Vanessa Marano did a great job as Carol, and her friendly-yet-sarcastic personality really threw me off the trail that she was the culprit. I really liked Brian Stepanek as Daphne's father as well. He did a wonderful job playing a protective character that was a bit goofy. Spencer's actor also did a good job, for the little bit of the movie he was in where he wasn't "zombified." Besides Jeffery and Gilman, I would say my favorite actor in the film was Courtney Dietz, who played Mikayla. She seemed really into her role, and gave Mikayla a great personality whereas some of the other characters (i.e. Three-Mop Maggie, Griffin Griffiths, etc.) could be a bit dry and the acting felt forced at times.
I absolutely loved this film, and I really hope they make a sequel someday! I'm really interested to hear what you all thought of the movie, so if you've seen it, let me know what you thought in the comments!