[REVIEW] Clifford the Big Red Dog Reviewed by Someone Afraid of Dogs

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

Smile Worthy

For what it’s worth I would watch Paw Patrol: The Movie before this.

Rango Movie Review

rangoSo I finally had the chance to watch the Academy Award winning film Rango tonight. I had never seen it because a bunch of my friends at the time were very offended by it, so I never bothered.

I wish I could ask them what it was that offended them because it is definitely a very strange movie but I wasn’t offended.

gs.po110.123241.61.tif

That said, I didn’t really care for it either. The artistic style I found off putting and there is a certain garishness to the story, dialogue I didn’t like.

It is a very strange movie and I appreciated some of the risks they took but it is not a pleasant film to watch. I don’t know if that makes sense but sometimes you look at a piece of art and you can see it is ambitious and groundbreaking and yet find it disgusting at the same time.  That’s what Rango felt like to me.

It’s about a pet lizard named Rango who is abandoned in the desert. There are a lot of surrealist moments at the start with a armadillo that has been run over but is still alive who is delusional and then other animals he meets and then he is chased by a hawk in a long sequence.  The story takes a long time to get going but eventually he makes it to an old west town called Dirt.

Tortoise_John_telling_Beans_to_sign_the_deed_to_her_father's_ranch Rango-shoot-out-007

Everything in Dirt is ruled by water and there are a lot of bad guys- a Gila monster (Ray Winstone), a desert turtle (Ned Beatty), a rattlesnake (Bill Nighy), a mole (Harry Dean Stanton), a hawk that can’t speak, and a bunch of rats that I think were bad.  Honestly I lost track after a while.  There were so many characters and the story didn’t make much sense.  Rango becomes Sheriff of Dirt and I guess that was explained but I  missed it. But he fights outlaws and there are bar room brawls and standouts.

Rango-Critters-2There is also a girl iguana called Beans who’s father owned land that the turtle tries to get her to give up throughout the movie. She is the only female character and an obvious love interest for Rango but she is treated in the movie like a man and so there is no chemistry or witty banter between the two. Honestly it seemed like Rango was in a different movie than the rest of the characters. It was weird.

There is a vault that is opened which has the town’s water and the bank manager is killed and the turtle controls the vault.  But they end up with only 6 days of water left.

About an hour into the movie they start on a journey to find water and I started to enjoy it more. There was more of a traditional narrative as opposed to the randomness of the earlier part of the movie.  It is also a movie set in modern times so why can’t they get the water?  It is also not like Great Mouse Detective where humans are living in the town and animals.  No, this is just a town for animals. But it is set in the old west but not really but why?

rango-apocalypsehowl

It was just a confusing movie and I didn’t think it was funny or aesthetically pleasing.  Even the way Rango’s eyes moved I found kind of unsettling and distracting.  It was like looking at someone with a lazy eye (I have a lazy eye so I know of what I speak) and they never look you straight in the face but their eyes are constantly moving. There is also 2 scenes where a hawk (long scenes) chases Rango in a bottle and a vending machine that do nothing for the story.

I’ve rarely been more befuddled by a film.  I guess it is one that just doesn’t appeal to me. I can see why others who appreciate randomness and the type of art love it. And if you are super knowledgeable about westerns than you might like it. Not everything has to be made for my aesthetic but it would have been nice to have at least a story I could follow with characters that made sense.  I think I am pretty open minded when it comes to artistic expression and creative films.

As it is, its too cluttered, confusing, and convoluted.

46076-movie-review-rango

Also, who is this movie made for? It’s not adult enough to be like a South Park or ‘adults only’ animated movie. But I can’t imagine any kids following the plot and myriad of characters or getting any of the jokes.  Part of the problem is kids haven’t seen the Western movies it constantly spoofs.  There is even a Dirty Harry cameo from Clint Eastwood.  Most young adults haven’t seen many westerns let alone kids. I wish I had seen more Westerns and it is on my list so I think a lot of the homages and spoofs were lost on me.  I don’t know.  I just don’t get who the movie is geared towards?

It kind of felt like they dumped all their ideas into a canon and then just put it all on screen without regards to a cohesive story or characters that made sense or we could keep track of.

Giving a grade is tough because it is thoughtfully made but it just didn’t work for me.  The last 45 minutes it gets better but I didn’t care for it. Sorry!

Overall Grade- D+