Before I start this review I should make a confession. I’m afraid of dogs and have been since I was a little girl. My brother and sister are both super allergic, which caused some anxiety around animals but my best friend was also attacked by a dog when I was in 5th grade. As I have grown older I’ve gotten more comfortable around dogs but it still takes me a while to get used to them. I don’t think I will ever own a dog or be at ease with animals of any kind but I’m working on it (it was really hard on my mission where people had huge dogs all the time!).
Knowing my anxieties the trailer for Clifford the Big Red Dog looked more like a nightmare than a charming family film. I don’t know why they made it look like a regular dog as opposed to the animated look of the dog in the school books? It looks far less terrifying. Nevertheless, when I got the screener link I went into the film with an open mind and I have to admit I got used to the dog pretty quickly. I still would have gone with a more whimsical design but it’s fine and dog owners will probably love such a big sweet doggie.
As far as the movie goes, it’s okay. It is probably something that should have been released to streaming as opposed to the big screen. Kids will love it and it has many sweet moments but the entertainment for adults isn’t that strong.
Darby Camp plays Emily, a little girl who is struggling to fit into her new snooty private school and Jack Whitehall is her down-on-his-luck uncle Casey who is watching her when her Mother goes out of town for work. The two meet a collector of odd animals named Bridwell played by John Cleese and he gives them a normal sized Clifford.
To their shock overnight Clifford grows into the big red dog we know and love. Tony Hale plays the big bad geneticist who takes a fascination with the dog and David Alan Grier is the dog-hating landlord. It’s a good cast and they all know what movie they are in. It’s a family film with over-the-top shenanigans that also tries to touch the heartstrings. It’s by no means as strong as the Paddington films but more tolerable than the Peter Rabbit movies if you ask me.
The biggest disappointment of Clifford the Big Red Dog is how wonky the special effects are. Surprisingly small Clifford may actually look worse than big Clifford. The visual effects just aren’t good. I would also be way more terrified if I saw a giant dog like Clifford than anyone in this movie ever is!
Nevertheless, if you are a dog person and you have kids Clifford the Big Red Dog is a serviceable entry in the genre. It has a big heart to go along with the big dog and should make for a fun watch for the dog loving families out there. It’s big and wants to give you a kiss and lick you on your way out of the theater. Enjoy!
5.5 out of 10
For what it’s worth I would watch Paw Patrol: The Movie before this.