James Gunn is now known for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, but a lesser-known fact about him is that one of his earlier credits was writing the screenplay for 2002's live-action Scooby Doo film. It starred #SarahMichelleGellar (Daphne), #FreddyPrinzeJr. (Fred), #MatthewLillard (Shaggy) and #LindaCardenilli (Velma).
But despite being based on a beloved cartoon and having Gunn's writing power behind it, the movie had a... let's say less than stellar reception. But as it turns out, if James Gunn had had his way, the version of Scooby-Doo we got would have been much more adult—and rated R.
The R-Rated 'Scooby Doo' We Never Got... But Exists
June 14 marked the 15th anniversary of Scooby Doo, and James Gunn took to Facebook to celebrate the occasion. In his message, he revealed something we never expected: His initial version of the film was much more adult-oriented, and definitely warranted an R-rating.
As someone who had been raised on Scooby-Doo and loved it as a kid, he had a peculiar outlook on the project: He wanted the story to appeal to classic #ScoobyDoo fans who were all grown up.
"It was not exactly what we planned going out - I had written an edgier film geared toward older kids and adults, and the studio ended pushing it into an clean cut children's film."
Would Gunn's initial vision have worked? It depends on how the mature themes would've been handled. When we think about R-ratings our mind goes to gratuitous violence, cursing and sex. That prospect can be worrying, because those elements aren't necessary to make a movie worthwhile and often just end up bogging it down.
But judging from Gunn's comments, the R-rating came more as an effort to connect with the different mindset of the show's grown-up audience. That approach is hard to pull off without touching on more mature subjects.
But There's More To This Story Than Meets The Eye
Surprisingly enough, an R-rated version of the film was made, as Gunn stated:
"And, yes, the rumors are true - the first cut was rated R by the MPAA."
#JamesGunn wanted an edgier Scooby-Doo movie (I never thought I'd say that in my life), and initially, he got it—for a brief moment. The director revealed that the test cut of the film was rated R, partly thanks to a single line that the MPAA believed to be referring to oral sex.
But that wasn't the only trouble the movie ran into in regard to ratings with MPAA. Warner Bros. had Sarah Michelle Gellar's cleavage digitally removed in post-production to avoid offending people:
"The female star's cleavage was CGI'd away so as not to offend."
There you have it, that's the story behind the R-rated Scooby-Doo take. Just think: Somewhere out there, floating around in digital purgatory, there might be a version of Scooby-Doo with an R-rating.
What do you think about James Gunn's story? Would you have liked to see an R-rated Scooby Doo movie? Let me know in the comments!