Clifford the Big Red Dog

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Paramount has made a semi-animated movie of Clifford the Big Red Dog, based on the character created by Norman Bridwell. It’s the story of a girl, Emily (Darby Camp), who adopts a startlingly colored puppy. Since she loves it so much, it grows to humongous size.

I was interested in watching it mostly because the male lead is played by Jack Whitehall. When I was in London, I saw him on Graham Norton talking about making the movie, which is when I realized he was Newton Pulsifer in Good Omens. He plays Emily’s Uncle Casey, who is babysitting since her single mother has to travel for work. His reactions are good, particularly since most of the time he’s acting against air.

Jack Whitehall in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG from Paramount Pictures.

Jack Whitehall in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

The strangest thing to me is that the mom (Sienna Guillory) is British. Her brother, Casey, is played by someone who is (in real life) British, yet he tries an American accent. They do give some backstory about him spending most of his life in the US, but it seems unnecessary.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

A pleasant surprise was that John Cleese showed up as the mystical animal provider. That is a ridiculous enough device that you need someone who can ground the whimsy, and he does a great job at it.

John Cleese and Jack Whitehall in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: KC Bailey.

John Cleese and Jack Whitehall in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

The dog is animated, and in the beginning, not very well. The puppy’s legs change size depending on the scene, and its sternum is oddly prominent and distracting. The head doesn’t seem the right size for the body at times. Also, the red is very red, as if the dog had been dipped in mashed cinnamon candies. The big version is surprisingly, more effective and believable.

Darby Camp stars in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

Darby Camp stars in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

There is much slapstick as the dog destroys the New York apartment and runs away from those trying to capture him. There are also lots of notable supporting cast members, including David Alan Grier as the building super, Kenan Thompson as the vet, Tony Hale and Alex Moffat as the bad guys (trying to capture the dog), and Rosie Perez as the vet receptionist.

It’s not a terrible choice for family distraction over the holidays, particularly if you want something heart-warming that you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to. My biggest disappointment was that Casey is living in a truck because he hasn’t yet gotten work as a comic artist, a plot point that I wanted to know more about, but nothing substantial is made of it.

Darby Camp and Jack Whitehall star in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

Darby Camp and Jack Whitehall star in CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

Clifford the Big Red Dog is available now at your favorite digital store or available to stream for free on Paramount+. The Blu-ray and the DVD will be available on February 1. The Blu-ray will have the following bonus content:

  • Part of the Pack — Get a behind-the-scenes look at Clifford’s big movie with interviews from cast and crew.
  • Acting is for the Dogs — There’s more to Clifford than meets the eye: meet the puppeteers who brought the giant red pup to life!
  • The Magic of Bridwell – See where Clifford’s big adventure began from creator Norman Bridwell’s early drawings for the beloved Scholastic book series to Clifford’s worldwide fame.
  • Tips & Tricks for Taking Care of a 10-Foot Dog – Get hilarious tips on how to take care of a giant dog!
  • Deleted Scenes


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