A child wanting a cute little puppy is nothing out of the ordinary, especially when said puppy brings the child comfort during a trying time. Well, this is what happens to Emily Elizabeth (Darby Camp) when she stumbles upon Mr. Bridwell (John Cleese) and his animal rescue tent that is set up outside of her school. Although her uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) doesn’t think stopping by the tent is a good idea, he ultimately gives in. Mr. Bridwell directs Emily’s attention to the small red retriever and it is love at first sight. Unfortunately for Emily Elizabeth, Casey reminds her that her building doesn’t allow dogs and even if they did, it’s likely that her mother (Sienna Guillory) would kill Casey if they brought one home without permission.
Sadly, Emily Elizabeth leaves the puppy behind, only to find a stowaway in her backpack when she returns home from school with the help of Mr. Bridwell’s magic. After naming the canine Clifford, Emily Elizabeth does her best to hide the fact that she has a new dog from her uncle, but of course, that doesn’t go as planned. However, Casey relents but has an instantaneous change of heart the next morning when the once small puppy is now a massive pooch with a penchant for excitement – which would be fine if Clifford was not almost the size of the entire apartment. Of course, Clifford quickly draws the attention of the wrong people, including the villainous Zack Tieran (Tony Hale).
This sends Emily Elizabeth and Casey on an adventure like no other in order to keep Clifford safe. With the help of some friends, including Emily Elizabeth’s classmate, Owen (Izaac Wang) and his father, Mr. Yu (Russell Wong), Emily Elizabeth and Clifford soon find out that many are rooting for them.
Directed by Walt Becker, Clifford the Big Red Dog easily brings back the feeling of nostalgia while seeing the giant canine prance about on the theatre screen. Most of us have read the books when we were young or watched the animated television series, so to see this character get the big-screen treatment was a delight. Darby Camp was great as Emily Elizabeth and had good chemistry with her Jack Whitehall as her teenage-like uncle. Together the duo was able to bring out the best in one another and share some of the film’s better comedic beats which kids will love.
Clifford the Big Red Dog is very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of movie. Watching the trailer once very much tells you all you need to know going into the film. This is not a bad thing at all, it is just to hammer home the idea that this movie is meant for kids. So, an adult’s level of enjoyment may not be the same. That being said, Clifford the Big Red Dog shines when it leans into any of these magical elements and moments geared specifically toward its target audience.
It is a heart-warming tale about a girl and her dog that is sure to delight children and adults alike. It does much more than just rely on the cuteness of a puppy with its important messages abound about embracing your uniqueness and caring for others. Clifford the Big Red Dog has a little something for everyone.
Clifford the Big Red Dog is playing in theatres now
by Britany Murphy