Home Clifford The Big Red Dog

Clifford The Big Red Dog (PG)

Cast: Darby Camp, John Cleese, Izaac Wang, Jack Whitehall, Sienna Guillory, Tony Hale
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): Jay Scherick, Blaise Hemingway, David Ronn
Director: Walt Becker
Release Date: 10/12/2021
Running Time: 96mins
Country: UK/Can/US
Year: 2021

Twelve-year-old Emily Elizabeth Howard is the new girl in sixth grade at Thatcher Academy. She is bullied mercilessly by mean girl Florence, who cruelly nicknames the scholarship student "Food Stamp". When Emily's paralegal mother Maggie leaves town on business for a couple of days, lackadaisical uncle Casey babysits his niece. On their first morning together, they visit the pop-up animal shelter run by Mr Bridwell and Emily is smitten with a mischievous golden retriever pup with beetroot fur.


LondonNet Film Review
Clifford The Big Red Dog (PG)

>Hoping to disprove the notion that the loveliest gifts come in small packages, director Walt Becker’s supersized family comedy unleashes a hulking runt of a litter on New York City and revels in the devastation as the mutt pounces on a Zorb in Central Park and breaks a veterinarian’s expensive weighing scales. Clifford The Big Red Dog is based on the beloved series of children’s books by Norman Bridwell dating back to the 1960s and Becker’s film shares many of the tail-wagging title character’s traits. It’s boundlessly energetic, eager to please, occasionally clumsy and tiring for periods…

The digitally rendered hero, who teaches a bullied girl the power of love and self-belief, is cartoonishly cute and gels with live-action elements including a human cast led by Jack Whitehall, whose faltering American accent could have been dropped since his man-child pointedly discloses he was born in England. The comedian and actor is the butt of the pooch-oriented jokes. He is accidentally sprayed when Clifford cocks a leg and is handed a thermometer to gauge the pet’s temperature in a place “that rhymes with nut hole”. There is plentiful sweetness to offset the silly, delivered in spades by young lead Darby Camp, and John Cleese has a twinkle in his eye as a modern-day Dr Dolittle with a gift for pairing abandoned creatures and emotionally crippled owners.

Twelve-year-old Emily Elizabeth Howard (Camp) is the new girl in sixth grade at Thatcher Academy. She is bullied mercilessly by mean girl Florence (Mia Ronn), who cruelly nicknames the scholarship student “Food Stamp”. When Emily’s paralegal mother Maggie (Sienna Guillory) leaves town on business for a couple of days, lackadaisical uncle Casey (Whitehall) babysits his niece. On their first morning together, they visit the pop-up animal shelter run by Mr Bridwell (Cleese), who suggests the adoption of a temperamental tortoise or stand-up chameleon. Instead, Emily is smitten with a mischievous golden retriever pup with beetroot fur.

“How big is he gonna get?” she inquires. “That depends… on how much you love him,” cryptically responds Mr Bridwell. Overnight, the pooch – christened Clifford – grows to monstrous proportions and attracts the attention of building superintendent Packard (David Alan Grier), who forbids pets on the premises. When footage of Clifford goes viral, scheming biotech chief executive Zac Tieran (Tony McHale) dispatches underlings to capture the towering canine and sequence its DNA as the missing piece of his “feed the world with giant food” puzzle.

Clifford The Big Red Dog is unabashedly playful and chaotic, peppered with pratfalls and pantomime villainy. Camp’s heartfelt lead performance provides ballast to Whitehall’s tomfoolery (an opening sight gag with hand sanitiser sets the tone) and lends credibility to a grandstand plea for compassion and acceptance that only happens in the movies.

– Kim Hu


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