Emily (Darby Camp) attends a prestigious school in New York that she got into via a scholarship, making her the target of bullies. Without any friends and only her mother Maggie (Sienna Guillory) to lean on, Emily isn’t thrilled to learn that her irresponsible uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) has been enlisted to look after her while Maggie goes away for work. Emily and Casey happen upon an animal rescue tent at the park run by Mr. Bridwell (John Cleese), and following their visit Emily finds a small red dog, called Clifford, in her backpack. The next morning the dog has grown to a huge size and it draws the attention of a biotech company that plots to kidnap the dog for their own gain.
‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ is based on the children’s book series of the same name by the late American author Norman Bridwell. The series, first published in 1963, has been hugely popular and there have been video games and animated series based on. This big screen adaptation is the first live action project based on the series and it’s a heart-warming tale about why being different is actually a positive thing. Emily finds a kindred spirit in Clifford because she, like the adorable red dog, is the odd one out and the target of a school bully who is determined to make her life miserable.
Clifford’s entrance into Emily’s life is unexpected and he causes her problems from the beginning. When she awakes to find he’s grown significantly, Emily appeals for her uncle Casey to help her check that he’s alright and pleads to keep him, even though it’s a violation of the tenancy agreement for the apartment she lives in with her mother in Harlem. Of course, Clifford isn’t contained in the house for too long and once he goes out into the big wide world, he becomes big news. Zac Tieran, the owner of biotechnology company Lyfegro, decides to claim that Clifford is his, seeing an opportunity to make money and what ensues is a battle between Emily and Lyfegro.
The film truly is entertaining and one that families, especially those with small children, can enjoy. It’s a flight of fantasy that gives just over 90 minutes of pure escapism from the sorry state of the world we’re living in right now. Darby Camp is simply wonderful as Emily, building further on the promise she’s shown in ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ series and ‘Big Little Lies’. She’s such a talented young actor and surely the world is hers for the taking as she matures and tackles meatier roles. Jack Whitehall gives an energetic comedic performance as Casey, and if you can look past his atrocious American accent, he’s actually pretty good. Tony Hale camps it up as the film’s villain while a nice, and subtle, turn from John Cleese pays loving homage to the author of the books.
The Blu-ray release includes four featurettes taking you behind-the-scenes of the movie and a selection of deleted scenes. The highlight is ‘Tips & Tricks for Taking Care of a 10 Foot Dog’, a short featurette about how to keep your large dog happy. It’s a cute addition and one that families will love.
‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ isn’t a perfect film by any means but it’s pure escapism that’s perfect for the whole family. With so much negative and distressing news surrounding us daily, this film is a welcome distraction and one I thoroughly enjoyed. For anyone that’s loved a dog, or had the guts to be live their live differently, this is the perfect film for you. What more can you ask for right now?
Cast: Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, Izaac Wang, John Cleese Director: Walt Becker Writers: Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Blaise Hemingway Certificate: PG Duration: 96 mins Released by: Paramount Home Entertainment Release date: 14th March 2022 Buy ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ now