Star Rating:

Clifford The Big Red Dog

Director: Walt Becker

Actors: Jack Whitehall, John Cleese, Darby Camp

Release Date: Friday 10th December 2021

Genre(s): Animation, Comedy, Family

Running time: 97 minutes

Emily (Darby Camp) lives with her single mother (Sienna Guillory) in New York, who struggles to make ends meet. When her mother goes out of town on a business trip, Emily is left in the care of her hapless uncle (Jack Whitehall). While visiting a local park, they wind up adopting a red puppy from a mysterious gentleman (John Cleese). However, when the red puppy suddenly grows enormous overnight, they have their hands full with more than just wrangling a giant canine...

There comes a point in 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' where eventually, you stop seeing the size of the giant red dog, and ultimately, your eyes just accept it as a reality of the scenario. It's a big, furry, red dog, that is made out of CGI pixels replacing an awkward-looking apparatus that was housed by two grown men. Jack Whitehall is petting it gently. Darby Camp is petting it gently. John Cleese looks on, admiringly. The enormous size of Clifford is attributed to the love its owners have for it. Say, for example, Clifford was in the care of famous dog-hater and human failure Donald Trump. We would expect Clifford to be of a teacup size, or possibly disappear altogether, with the movie's logic. Give Clifford to a cute little child who's being bullied at school and has Jack Whitehall with an awkward American accent for an uncle? Oh, that dog is going to be huge. Yuge, even. Massive. So big. Bigly big. Bigger than anything you've ever seen, folks.

How one can possibly review a movie like this? How can I, a grown man with a functioning heart and some kind of a moral compass, kick at something that is this sweet and loveable? Do I have it in me to stamp my feet and scare away this furry little creation? Do you? Does anyone? Of course not. You can't hate something like 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' because it's a movie that is, by its nature, completely inoffensive. The only people who could potentially be offended here in this movie are big tech CEOs with designs on vivisecting giant dogs. Of course, when the revolution comes, they're going to be the ones first against the wall so who cares what they think? Would cat owners be offended here, perhaps? Not in the slightest. People who keep birds? Nope, they're fine too.

'Clifford the Big Red Dog' is so disarmingly pleasant that it proves impossible to find any real fault with it. Jack Whitehall's performance is completely serviceable to what's going on, as is John Cleese, who somehow managed to make it through the length of the movie without whinging about cancel culture or insulting Irish people. Darby Camp, meanwhile, beams and smiles her way throughout with unbeatable earnestness. The dog? He's made of CGI and smiles. He barks playfully and right on cue. In his eyes, there's a glimmer of life. He's big. He's red. What's not to like? What's there to argue with?

As a movie experience, 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' offers up nothing especially unique. It's exactly the kind of old-school family fun that has been the purview of a certain mouse-themed global conglomerate for decades but now seems to amuse itself with turning animated classics into semi-lifeless live-action movies. There once was a time when good - not great - live-action family movies like 'Homeward Bound', 'Beethoven', or even 'Harry and the Hendersons' had a chance. 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' is a movie that belongs to that pantheon of forgivable mediocrity.

Let it pee where it wants to.