Clifford The Big Red Dog [Grade: 83.75%]

Director: Walt Becker

Story By: Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Blaise Hemingway, Justin Malen, & Ellen Rapoport

Cast: Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Izaac Wang, Tony Hale, David Alan Grier, Horatio Sanz, Paul Rodriguez, & Sienna Guillory

* * *

This is definitely a film meant and made for a very young demographic. Families having to go to the movies with this demographic, there’s nothing for you.

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Below are my grades for key components in #CliffordTheBigRedDog that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character (pertaining to arc/development &/or delivery). FYI: My A=95, A- =90, B=85, B-=80…etc. My D- =60 and my F=50

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start, OR experience is intentionally relevant to the genre and executed well–nothing more), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: B-

Plot & Story: B

Pacing: B

Character: B

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Entertainment Factors

General Public: Don’t Watch

Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Watch

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Don’t Watch

PG Family Comedy Fans: Interesting Enough

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1. The messaging of the film that stood out for me was around “looking for acceptance” and “feeling like an outcast/feeling different.” For the most part, the messaging was decent throughout the story. It was the inconsistency with outcast vs difference that was a small concern for me, though. 🥴🤷🏾‍♂️

In Act One, the story does a great job showing how both characters were either dealing with being an outcast/being different, &/or became an outcast/became different. Even the uncle fit the messaging. 

Act Two felt more of a celebration of the “BIG” obvious difference, which seemed like a detour from what Act One set up. Additionally, Tieran putting that random bug in the Police Chief’s ear eventually became a forced and false perspective to try and make the “outcast” and “need for acceptance” work/make sense. 

Act Three followed through well from Act Two, and for a while ended up feeling like a separate side story built around this infatuation with Clifford being different—which was completely different from Act One. Then the end of Act Three tried to force the “acceptance,” “outcast,” and “difference” into one statement as if the entire story was a journey of learning to understand those three ideas within one’s self when technically, those conflicts were quickly abandoned after Act One to focus on the intrigue of this “Big Red Dog.”

2. The CGI wasn’t the strongest when Clifford was a puppy. It was the neck area for me… 🥴

3. Uncle Casey was a good character to have on this journey with Emily. I enjoyed Jack Whitehall… 👍🏾

4. I am not sure how I feel about this random ass Lyfegrow company…it wasn’t a bad inclusion to the story, but I definitely could’ve used more intentional background and subtle images of this company throughout the story. 🤷🏾‍♂️

5. The story of Clifford the Big Red Dog is about a girl new to the city who comes across this one of a kind puppy who’s uniqueness soon becomes a target that must be protected. For a PG rating, the story was pretty solid despite its flaws. 👍🏾

Act One is a typical exposition where viewers are introduced to our title character who is visually “one of a kind” and also follows through on the theme of being different. This is the same for our introduction of Emily whose interaction with girls at school + dialogue with her mom also stays intact with the theme. 

Act Two is the Clifford we all know, a true one of a kind, and the introduction of our villain + the setting of the target. Although the story doesn’t stick with the theme well, it carries out the primary story of seeing this unique dog, and adds a simple “PG” conflict for said uniqueness. 

Act Three is an advocation for the love of this unique animal, and protecting it from the conflict while attempting to tie things back to the theme—to the PG audience, it won’t be as obvious, but to those really paying attention… … 🤨🥴

6. However, to point #2, Big Clifford’s CGI was really good! 👍🏾

7. So Clifford is just trained already? 🤨

8. This movie moves pretty well, especially for its set demographic. 👍🏾👍🏾

I remembered seeing a Tiktok where this man was comparing different children’s shows to that of Coco Melon to show why it’s such toddler crack. In this comparison, he talked about how often the screen shifts in Coco Melon which constantly engages the eye, and this is what the pacing was like in Clifford–scenes constantly moving with characters to engage with quite often (especially when I think about Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis, or Malik), especially with Clifford having some reason to either run through the streets of New York, or jump out of the van. 

9. Even though they were clever to have the brother make the statement about when he and his sister moved to the states… they really tried it with mom and brother having different accents… 👀🤦🏾‍♂️😂

10. There really wasn’t strong consistency with Emily and her personal conflict, nor with how her and Clifford seemed to have this paralleled experience. If anything, the strength of the characters really comes through in Acts 2 and 3 when everything is centered on Clifford and his overall protection, which definitely follows through well with the main premise of the story. 🥴👍🏾

Now the character arc/development was solid with Clifford and the trio of humans vs Emily. Emily’s character technically doesn’t have anything interesting until Clifford puts her into situations which then creates the target that adds more interesting situations to be put into. But my issue is how the story begins with Emily isn’t what the arc focuses on—it shifts to the title character, as it should, but then I wonder what other way could this film have started off with Emily being more of a supporting, static character? 

I could even see the film starting with just Clifford roaming the streets of New York, lost and afraid; and then catching the eye of Emily who picks him up, takes him home where there’s a disagreement with her mom about keeping him, but she sneaks and keeps him anyway; when she wakes up he’s miraculously big, and then she hears a knock on the door which is her uncle (her mom leaves a note that she had to run out), and when the uncle comes in he encounters Clifford, and the film continues…. 

Basically, just get to Clifford and forget abut the humans. 

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Overall #CliffordTheBigRedDog gives Sims Pets – meets Mighty Joe Young – meets Beethoven – meets Mr. Magorium

Honestly, for families with 3-6 year olds, this film is worth the watch. Acts Two and Three definitely provide a different feel to the film that keeps it engaging—especially for that age group. 

Now as an adult, will you find enjoyment sitting in the theater with your child/children? Eh… maybe not. There’s not really anything in this film that cleverly caters to the adult humor—it is very much a PG film—so I’d consider watching it on Paramount+ vs going to the theaters so you can disappear and leave your children alone. 

I also still can’t get over how they reeeeaaally tried it with justifying / making sense of those different accents (LOL). I just can’t. 

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