Who was ready for this? I know it was probably inevitable since this property is popular and geared towards kids. But the time has come to take a cute hand drawn red dog and make it into a big CGI creation and throw it right into the real world! These books were always simple stories but what will they do to make this a feature length film? But to be honest, I am certainly not the audience that this film is gearing itself to. Though it should still include some entertainment for the more adult crowd. What should we expect from a modern, live action retelling of the story of Clifford the Big Red Dog?
What is the most important aspect of this film? Clifford, of course. How does this giant CGI dog look on screen? In general, the effects are fine, and the dog is as believable as a large red puppy will look in a real-world situation. This creation might tightrope walk the line of the uncanny valley, but it works for the film. BUT not all the effects are that great. What happens when a person hops on Clifford’s back to run around? They look like a character ripped from a PS2 game and rag doll all around. Woof. It was hard to get involved in fun chase sequences when all you can notice is how bad a character looks in the film.
But with any film that has a large animal or entity that is not human, there always must be human characters thrown in our faces, right? Generally, there is a range for such characters. Are they unbearable and make you long for the non-human star of the film? Then there are the passable and forgettable ones who take up space. Or you can find some characters who feel like actual humans you can connect with. Clifford the Big Red Dog delivers a mix of the first two. The main human character is a young girl, played by a sweet and endearing Darby Camp, who is your generic little girl who wants a pet from a movie. She is being watched by her immature and man child (Jack Whitenall) is honestly unbearable. Then you have a whole crew of neighbors around their apartment who are crazy weird caricatures who end up being a lot of the third act. Silly and daft humor ensues!
But what is this film even about? Maybe this is a bit too late to try and discuss the plot…but who is really seeing Clifford the Big Red Dog for the plot? It is probably obvious that this young girl finds this dog and wants to keep it, but a giant dog becomes a problem. You even have a mythical old man (surprisingly portrayed by John Cleese) who brings this dog into her life. But people are afraid of Clifford (queue themes about acceptance of “the other”) and the police get involved. But the big bad? Big business! The always fun Tony Hale wants Clifford for the elements that made him so big so he can make more money…blah…blah…blah. But will a child be entertained by a big, cute dog doing big, cute dog things? I am sure they will.
Will children get a kick out of Clifford the Big Red Dog? I am sure they will. There is silly humor and a big, cute dog. They both will strike a chord in the young ones watching this film. Will the adults in the theater or the room have some fun? Probably not. But can they sit through it? This movie is inoffensive. When it comes down to it, families can have a nice time together watching this new live action adaptation.