Daphne and Velma is a film that brings a female friendship to the center while updating the Scooby-Doo universe for a new generation.
Ridge Valley High School is populated by all sorts of state of the art technology created by Tobias Bloom (Brooks Forester). Whether it’s phones, earbuds, or the Bloom Bracket, Bloom’s footprint is all over the school. Similar to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Bloom out does himself every year. The tech wiz even takes center stage to show off the new goods.
We’re quickly introduced to Daphne Blake (Sarah Jeffery) and learn just how sheltered she is by her parents. This makes for some fun and exciting gags that pay off really quick. It turns out that her father, Nedley (Brian Stepanek), just wanted her to have “the perfect life.” The relationship sours very quickly. “I can handle myself!” Daphne tells her dad.
Daphne is excited to be going to school with Velma Dinkley (Sarah Gilman) but Velma isn’t. Instead, she is nowhere to be found in the Bloom Bracket. Her contact information doesn’t show up. It is as if she doesn’t want to be found. Just as quick to introduce herself to Daphne is senior advisor Carol (Vanessa Marano). Carol is surprised to learn that Velma has friends.
When the duo catch Spencer (Adam Faison) walking into a locker and acting in a “zombiefied” state the next day, they start asking questions. It isn’t until they sit on the “best couch for conflict resolution” in which their friendship and mystery sleuthing is really solidified, much thanks to Principal Piper (Ardin Myrin). It’s really fun to watch the two with all the hi-jinks in play.
Suzi Yoonessi, a rising talent behind the camera, directs the film from a script written by Kyle Mack and Caitlin Meares. Filmmakers such as Yoonessi are one of the reasons why 2018 is such a great year for female filmmakers. One of the best new additions from the script is the updated technology that would make late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs proud! Film editor Kristina Davies steals the show with giving a voice to the technology. It’s her voice you hear when the Shame Drone keeps crying out “For shame” when the two mystery sleuths are wearing shame stickers. Davies absolutely owns it in this regard.
The Scooby-Doo franchise has a large history to choose from with so many stories to tell. It’s a history that allows for Mack and Meares bring a fresh approach with their screenplay. It’s one that allows for Daphne Black and Velma Dinkley, two of the strongest female characters in the TV cartoon history, to take on leading roles. The film could not come at a better time for women. The film is before the Mystery, Inc. gang gets together so it opens a book for new stories to be told for a new generation. Even though new stories are being told, the script stays true to the history. The costume design plays true to the character trademarks. Despite what Carol may think, purple and green are “awesome together.”
Sarah Gilman is absolutely astonishing in her approach to Velma Dinkley. The actress takes what we love about the character and makes it her own. Gilman’s deadpan performance is complemented by the dry wit. It ought to be a performance that fans will come to enjoy as the franchise goes in this new direction. It wouldn’t be complete without at least one use of “Jinkies” during the film.
Led by leads with great chemistry, Daphne and Velma offers a fresh take on an historic franchise for a new era.
DIRECTOR: Suzi Yoonessi
SCREENWRITERS: Kyle Mack & Caitlin Meares
CAST: Sarah Jeffery, Sarah Gilman, Brian Stepanek, Stephen Ruffin, Evan Castelloe, and Vanessa Marano