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Clifford the Big Red Dog (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Clifford the Big Red Dog

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG (2021)

Starring Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Izaac Wang, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, David Alan Grier, Russell Wong, Kenan Thompson, John Cleese, Horatio Sanz, Paul Rodriguez, Russell Peters, Keith Ewell, Bear Allen-Blaine, Tovah Feldshuh, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Ty Jones, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Mia Ronn, Madison Smith, Madison Morris and Rosie Perez.

Screenplay by Jay Scherick & David Ronn and Blaise Hemingway.

Directed by Walt Becker.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 96 minutes. Rated PG.

It’s difficult to take Clifford the Big Red Dog too seriously. After all, it’s a kid’s film about a ten-foot-tall shocking red CGI dog set loose in modern New York. So little critic things like acting, character development, and plotting really isn’t a premium concern.  

The question is a simple enough one. Will it entertain the kids? The answer is probably yes.

Clifford is a wacky film with its heart in the right place. And if you’ve seen it all before, well the movie isn’t being filmed for you.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is based on a series of children’s book written by Norman Bridwell. There have been 80 Clifford books since the first was released in 1963 up until the recent past. (The last two books were published posthumously in 2015 after Bridwell’s death the year before.)

The big red dog also starred in several home videos and an animated TV series, even a video game.

So, there is definitely an audience for this character. Still, it’s taken a long, long time to get this film off the ground. The film has been an on and off project for nearly a decade before it was finally released late last year, just now reaching video.

The idea of the film was first announced in 2012 by Universal Pictures, then the film hit a series of stops and starts for about four years. Finally, Paramount took over the rights to the film in 2016, saying they wanted to take the story in a different direction. The current director was signed on in 2017, and the filming started in 2019. They planned to release the film in 2020, but Covid pushed things back even more. Release dates were announced and postponed at least two or three more times, before it was finally released to theaters (and streaming on Paramount+) in November.

The long gestation period is usually a sign of problems, but it is not wholly the movie-makers’ fault. And more to the point, no one ever expected this film to be a critical darling. Clifford is made to amuse and babysit kids, and on that level it succeeds.

Like it’s title character, Clifford the Big Red Dog is big, hyperactive, cuddly, a little clumsy and desperate to please. That’s not a bad thing for a children’s film.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 8, 2022.

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