Clifford The Big Red Dog
review by Bobby Blakey
Through the years the beloved children’s book from Norman Bridwell, Clifford The Big Red Dog has gotten numerous treatments in animation and films. Now they are bringing the popular character to the big screen for his first live action adaptation aptly titled Clifford The Big Red Dog starring Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, David Alan Grier, Russell Wong and John Cleese. Could this big screen version do the big red dog justice or will it fail to find enough love?
Clifford The Big Red Dog follows middle-schooler Emily Elizabeth who meets a magical animal rescuer who gifts her a little, red puppy, she never anticipated waking up to find a giant ten-foot hound in her small New York City apartment. While her single mom is away for business, Emily and her fun but impulsive uncle Casey set out on an adventure that will keep you on the edge-of-your-seat as our heroes take a bite out of the Big Apple. Based on the beloved Scholastic book character, Clifford will teach the world how to love big!
I remember loving the Clifford books as a kid and then getting to pass them onto my kids. When thinking about any kind of adaptation of the character you can’t help but think of the late great John Ritter who voiced Clifford in the animated series that ran from 2000 to 2003 on PBS. When they announced a big screen live action adaptation I was of course concerned to how it was going to work. While nothing overly stand out it was still surprisingly entertaining.
The story is pretty simple and much like all these kinds of live action adaptations of animated properties. There are elements that work and others that fall flat. It is slow getting started and the CGI used for Clifford when he is a puppy is pretty bad, but once we get to the big version we know and love it works a lot better. I would have loved to see them take the old school
approach of effects with a real dog, but I am aware that it likely wouldn’t have worked either.
The cast all seem to be having fun here and the usual chaotic antics ensue making it one that will no doubt entertain the intended audience. The older crowd will likely be hit and miss depending on their connecting to the Clifford property. I found it way more fun than I honestly thought since I fully expected it to just annoy me. It’s predictable and straight forward in its execution and takes very few chances to make it work, but in this kind of thing not sure it was overly necessary.
If you are a fan of the big red dog then decide for yourself and check out Clifford The Big Red Dog available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.