Clifford’s Really Big Movie

Cast:
John Ritter as Clifford the Big Red Dog (voice)
Wayne Brady as Shackelford (voice)
Grey DeLisle as Emily Elizabeth (voice)
Jenna Elfman as Dorothy (voice)
John Goodman as George Wolfsbottom (voice)
Jess Harnell as Dirk (voice)
Kel Mitchell as T-Bone (voice)
Judge Reinhold as Larry (voice)
Kath Soucie as Jetta/Madison (voice)
Cree Summer as Cleo (voice)
Wilmer Valderrama as Rodrigo (voice)
Earl Boen as Mr. Bleakman (voice)
Cam Clarke as Mr. Howard/Marcus (voice)
Teresa Ganzel as Liza (voice)
Ernie Hudson as P.T. (voice)
Nick Jameson as Sheriff Lewis (voice)
Oren Williams as Charley (voice)

Summary:
Toddlers will love Clifford’s Really Big Movie, but despite a strong voice cast, there’s not much here for adults.

Story:
This movie is based on the long running children’s book series “Clifford” by Norman Bridwell.

Born in the fires of nuclear radiation, a young red dog grows to gigantic proportions and begins his reign of terror upon a small island of unsuspecting victims. They must bow before their canine overlord or face total annihilation. (OK, just kidding.)

When the carnival comes to Clifford’s New England town, it features Larry and his amazing animal show. Included in the show is Dorothy the tightrope-walking cow, Shackelford the acrobatic ferret, Dirk the daredevil dachshund, and Rodrigo the weightlifting chihuahua. Unfortunately, their act is a disaster. Since they are unable to get it together and generate money, the carnival owner has decided to fire them. However, Larry is able to talk him into letting them stay if they can win a “most talented animal” contest held by a dog food company. The only problem is that they need a show-stopping act.

When Shackelford sees the enormous dog Clifford, he believes he has found just what the show needs. The ferret tries to recruit Clifford and his friends Cleo and T-Bone. Clifford turns him down, though, because he is happy with his owner Emily Elizabeth and he doesn’t want to leave. However, when Clifford gets home, he gets it in his mind that he eats too much food for his family to pay for. He gets the idea to help Larry’s animal act, thus winning a lifetime supply of dog food for his owners.

Clifford, Cleo, and T-Bone join the animal act and instantly propel it to stardom. But what will happen when Shackelford realizes that he’s no longer the star of the show?

Clifford’s Really Big Movie is rated G.

What Worked:
This movie really only has two things going for it – a good voice cast and the fact that it entertains toddlers.

First off, I took my 5-year-old and 2-year-old to this movie. Both of the kids loved it. They sat still through the whole movie and were really into the story. That’s an incredible feat to get them to sit still that long. Mirko has met my kids and can attest to that. Plus, it’s rare that a movie comes along that I can take a preschooler and toddler to. It happens maybe once or twice a year, so it was fun to be able to take them to the theater.

Clifford’s Really Big Movie also has a surprisingly strong voice cast. I had fun trying to guess who voices all of the characters. First and foremost is John Ritter as the voice of Clifford. He was the voice of the big red dog on the TV show and he continued his duties in the movie. I believe this film is his last piece of work to be viewed by the public since his untimely death. At the end of the movie they dedicate the film to him. The rest of the cast includes well-known actors like Wayne Brady, Judge Reinhold, Jenna Elfman, John Goodman, and Ernie Hudson.

While the soundtrack is not memorable, there was one song that was pretty good that ran through the whole movie and the credits. I don’t know the name of it or who sang it, but I remember it being a toe tapper. Other than that, there’s not much to mention about Clifford.

What Didn’t Work:
Overall, this movie is only for young children. Adults will be bored by it. I personally found myself repeatedly checking my watch. The humor and dialogue are all geared for young children, so there’s no real hook for parents. While adults were by no means the target audience, I think they could have thrown adults a bone or two (pun intended). It could have had more adult audience appeal than it did.

The animation is also pretty basic. There’s nothing noteworthy about the style of the characters or the animation techniques. This is TV cartoon show caliber. It is made to look like the art in the children’s book and it nails it, but it unfortunately doesn’t offer up much eye candy.

And despite having talented, funny actors in the voice roles, none of them did anything slightly unique. You can tell there was no ad-libbing and it seems like all the actors stick as close to the script as possible. I think they could have done some fun stuff with the dialogue, yet they didn’t.

The Bottom Line:
This one is only for the young children. They’ll get a big kick out of it, and watching them have fun is the most entertainment that adults can expect from it. For this I give it a 4 out of 10. However, on a toddler rating scale, it’s scored a lot higher.

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