Clifford the Big Red Dog

I can’t believe what I am going to say.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is a charming, funny, family-friendly adventure which is full of heart and should be a hit among kids and cute enough for parents to enjoy as well.

I would not have guessed that.

Clifford the Big Red Dog was adapted from a book series of the same name by Norman Bridwell. In this movie, Clifford is just a puppy and is nowhere near as large as he is in the books, which I think is a smart move. It allows you to relate to Clifford much more than you could if he was at his actual height.

In the film, middle schooler Emily (Darby Camp) is bullied and lonely at her school. When her mother (Sienna Guillory) had to leave for work, in desperation, she called her less than responsible brother Casey (Jack Whiteall) to stay with Emily. When Casey was taking Emily to school, they came across a tent outside her school of Bridwell (John Cleese), an animal rescuer who seemed to have something magical about him. Emily and Casey went inside the tent and discovered a very small, red puppy. Casey would not let Emily keep the dog, but the puppy snuck into Emily’s backpack.

With the dog at her apartment, Emily convinced Casey to let her keep the dog for the night. She named him Clifford only to find that the dog grew to ten feet tall by the morning.

I actually found this to be funny. I laughed several times and there were some definitely outlandish and surprisingly unconventional humor. The dialogue contained a bunch of silly jokes and witty remarks.

I loved the character of Casey. Jack Whiteall, who was great earlier this year in Disney’s Jungle Cruise, played this character that could have been a cliché with a ton of heart and humor. His delightful performance carried much of the film for me.

Sure the plot itself stretched credibility and the film does not explain much of anything, but none of that is what you want to see in a movie like this. This is a fantasy adventure where you want to see a little girl and her dog overcome the adversity to have a happy ending. That is all provided in Clifford the Big Red Dog.

The side cast included a ton of great actors providing a potpourri of oddball characters to help Emily and Clifford. They include Tony Hale as the lead antagonist, Tieran. There is also Paul Rodriguez, David Alan Greer, Horatio Sanz, Russell Peters, Russell Wong, Tovah Feldshuh, Keith Ewell and Bear Allen-Blaine. Special shout out to Izaac Wang, who played Owen, Emily’s friend from school who clearly had a crush on her. Wang had decent comic timing for his age and worked well with the cast.

The CGI on Clifford was fine. There were a few times when it did not look the greatest. It was obviously not at the level of an Avengers: Endgame or Dune. Still, it was not bad and it did not distract me in the simple moments, so I would say that, overall, the CGI was a success.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is a heart warming movie that may even elicit a tear or two in the proper placement. There is a plain theme of how people treat those who are different that is anything but subtle, but that is fine. Subtlety is not the expected strong point in a film about a giant red dog. The most important characters are carried through with some solid performances and Clifford looked decent. Sure, the film is not an Oscar winner, but it hits what it is trying to do. Fun for the family. Sweetness. Some humor. I liked this much more than I ever thought I would.

3.25 stars

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