BY RICARDO LUJAN JR
Clifford the Big Red Dog is out of the doghouse and joined the live-action movie world. Does Clifford come out barking or pouting? Let’s find out.
Clifford the Big Red Dog has a runtime of 1:37, just over 90 minutes.
Walt Becker is the director of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Other works of his include: Old Dogs, Wild Hogs, and Van Wilder.
Darby Camp – Emily
Sienna Guillory – Maggie
Jack Whitehall – Casey
Izaac Wang – Owen
John Cleese – Bridwell
Tony Hale – Tieran
The story follows Emily as she deals with her irresponsible uncle, Casey, taking care of her while her mom is away on business. During this time, the two come across a red dog that Emily takes a liking to. The red dog winds up taking the two on a crazy adventure.
The story of this movie follows most of the typical cliches that pertain to kids’ movies that include a CGI companion. It was enjoyable regardless of the cliches. That sheer absurdity of some of the plot’s developments is what makes the story even better.
The main character of the story is a big red dog. The story should be wacky just based on that premise and a big mistake many movies make when having a story around a ridiculous main character like Clifford is trying to make it too realistic. Clifford avoids this issue and allows itself to be almost cartoonish at points.
However, the development of all the characters in the film fall flat. At the end of the film, none of the characters are any different than what they were at the start apart from a few minor changes. Many things in the story end up not having any lasting effect which makes the ending disappointing as the journey to get there feels pointless.
The pacing is all over the place as well. The story doesn’t truly progress until about the halfway mark and once the plot starts to move forward, it moves forward extremely quickly.
The last 40 minutes just fly by until it hits the ending which is quite abrupt. There isn’t a true ending where we get to see the resolutions of all the plot lines. Once the main story is over, the film ends leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction.
No matter what is done, it’s going to be difficult to show a realistic big red dog on-screen in live-action. This movie ends up doing a respectable job in bringing Clifford alive. Clifford’s interaction with the environment helps sell the effect that he is actually there especially during the portion of the film where he is small. Small Clifford is the best version of Clifford that we see in the film in terms of how well the CGI was done.
Once Clifford becomes the big red dog, a few issues start to arise. The scale of Clifford is constantly in flux. Clifford changes size throughout the film to accommodate the plot quite often. It isn’t always noticeable, but when it does become noticeable, it’s stand out like a sore thumb just like Clifford’s fur.
The biggest issue with Clifford’s CGI is his red fur. The red fur is a constant reminder that Clifford is CGI due to how unnatural it looks to the human eye. It’s a shame that one of the main character’s iconic traits ends up making it look fake. It undoes the great work the VFX team did in bringing him to the real world.
The issue could have possibly been fixed by changing the hue of the red used for the fur to help match the world around him better, but the VFX team’s decision to use a dark red similar to Clifford’s look in the books helps let the character feel more like Clifford.
The comedy in this movie was unexpected. Much of the comedy seems as though it was written for all ages. Some of the jokes were a surprise to see in a movie that is targeted at kids. The writers must have done this due to the fact that they believed some older people that grew up with Clifford would want to watch the film themselves. It’s a nice touch to have and helps elevate the film to a higher level. The comedy itself, for the most part, is actually funny rather than being corny.
Is Clifford The Big Red Dog a great movie? No, it is not. It has many issues that bog it down whether it’s the absurdity of the story, the characters’ development, the pacing of the plot, and many other issues throughout. Despite this, the movie is still very enjoyable. I found myself constantly smiling throughout the film as this was never meant to be an amazing movie. It was made to be an enjoyable watch using an iconic character that many know and love.
Kids will love this movie without a doubt and for anyone who likes Clifford, the movie is worth a watch. Clifford The Big Red Dog is currently playing at the Hays AMC Theater and streaming on Paramount+.