Jinkies! It's Daphne & Velma in a Pre-Scooby Girl Power Adventure

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Daphne & Velma

Before Mystery, Inc, there was Ridgely High -- where two students, Daphne Blake (SARAH JEFFERY, WAYWARD PINES) and Velma Dinkley (SARAH GILMAN, LAST MAN STANDING), first meet in real life after having been online BFFs.

Daphne has just transferred to Ridgely, a high-tech school that would make a Jetson's jaw drop. She's led a charmed life where everything has always worked out and good things come easily to her. She also believes in ghosts and aliens. But there's a secret behind Daphne's good luck that gets stripped away, leaving her to her own devices for the first time in her life.

Velma is a sullen student who purposely stays off the academic radar despite being the smartest person in the school. She's not thrilled to learn that her Internet mystery-solving partner is going to be coming to Ridgely, and it takes us a while to figure out why: there are strange things going on at the school, funded by tech-wizard Tobias Bloom (ADAM FAISON). The top students have been disappearing, only to reappear in zombified states, drained of all their creative energy.

It's a mystery worthy of the Scooby-Doo gang, but they're not around -- yet! Fortunately, Ridgely High has the girl power of Daphne & Velma to sleuth out the clues, solve the mystery, and pull off the grand reveal.

This re-imagining of the characters plays both with type and against type. Daphne is still a bit of an innocent who loves being fashionable, and Velma is still deeply into the scientific method. However, Daphne is also self-assertive, and Velma is capable of being a physical challenge when put to the test, making DAPHNE & VELMA a very female-positive movie.

Plot-wise, DAPHNE & VELMA is a bit of a Nickelodeon or Disney Channel kind of film; the adults are a bit on the flighty, goofy side -- Daphne's father (BRIAN STEPANEK, YOUNG SHELDON) is the ultimate in helicopter parents, and Velma's aunt and school principal (ARDEN MYRIN, SHAMELESS) governs through ideas like 'Shame Stickers' and 'Resolution Sofas -- and the kids are the ones who know what's happening and have all the sensitivity and optimism. So if you're over 30, you'll probably roll your eyes at the "Here we go again"-ness of the movie.

On the plus side, Director Suzi Yoonessi has made sure that elements of the classic SCOOBY-DOO series are all there: the daisy designs from the Mystery Machine permeate the background; there's a chase scene that takes place against a single background; blocking sequences with the girls peeking around corners or having their heads appear together in doorways; and -- my personal favorite -- the dark room where all you can see are illuminated eyeballs! And, of course, the unmasking of the villain and the meddling kids line!

Sarah Jeffery and Sarah Gilman absolutely embody the characters of Daphne and Velma, and I should not be surprised at all to find the duo paired up again for a follow-on film. This adventure even sets it up at the end, just in case. If they do, count me ready.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0