Clifford the Big Red Dog Parent Guide
This is a passably enjoyable, predictable adventure movie with subpar acting, a handful of laughs, and some heartfelt moments.
Parent Movie Review
On her way to school one day, lonely Emily Elizabeth (Darby Camp) stumbles upon an animal rescue tent run by the mysterious Mr. Bridwell (John Cleese), who encourages her to take home a tiny, very red, puppy. The next morning, Emily is shocked to see that her puppy, Clifford, has grown to be 10 feet tall over night! With her building superintendent (David Alan Grier) snooping around for rule breakers, and an ambitious bio-engineering millionaire (Tony Hale) hot on their trail, Emily and her uncle, Casey, (Jack Whitehall) set out on an adventure through New York City to keep Clifford safe.
To begin, I want us all to join in communal gratitude that the producers of this movie chose not to have that CGI abomination of a puppy talk. The cinema gods have smiled upon us, and we are blessed. Not too blessed, since we are still subjected to a questionably animated monstrosity with no soul, but I digress.
Clifford the Big Red Dog is exactly what I expected it to be: a passably enjoyable, predictable kids adventure movie with subpar acting, a handful of laughs, and some heartfelt moments. There are no surprises, but also no big disappointments. John Cleese wears a bow tie and is absolutely delightful, Tony Hale chews the scenery, and everyone else… is there. To be fair, acting is hard enough without having to emote to a tennis ball pretending to be a 10-foot dog, so I’m sure everyone was doing the best they could. The writers rely on potty humor rather than actual jokes for the most part, which may appeal to the young and undiscerning, but might cause parents to roll their eyes so far back in their heads they can’t find them again.
I have a bone to pick, and although it doesn’t affect the overall quality of the film, I would be remiss if I didn’t get this thought out into the world. Emily’s mom is British and played by a British actress. Her brother, Uncle Casey, is played by a British actor, but has an American accent. The writers literally had to put in a whole line to explain their differing accents, saying that they moved to America when Casey was a baby, which is why he doesn’t have an accent, but his older sister does. My question is, why come up with a convoluted explanation when you could have just had Jack Whitehall keep his regular British accent? His American accent is horrible! I literally wrote in my notes “what accent is Whitehall doing?” This was such a weird choice and it bothered me the entire run time. Will anyone else notice or care? Probably not, but I did and now you get to share my mystification.
Clifford may be predictable and lazy, but there’s also a lot of warmth to be found. Even I, with my cold, dead heart, found myself smiling uncontrollably during the third act. You can’t hate something that comes from such a sincere place of love, and perhaps that’s why I can’t bring myself to tear this film apart, accents notwithstanding. I can’t imagine adults will want to watch this alone, but for family viewing this is a decently fun, heartwarming adventure flick that kids of all ages can enjoy. The almost complete lack of negative content is a plus as well. Perhaps, like Emily’s love for Clifford, the love the crew had for this production was enough to make it grow into more than it should have been.Directed by Walt Becker. Starring Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, John Cleese. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release November 10, 2021. Updated February 24, 2022
Watch the trailer for Clifford the Big Red Dog
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Rating & Content Info
Why is Clifford the Big Red Dog rated PG? Clifford the Big Red Dog is rated PG by the MPAA for impolite humor, thematic elements and mild action
Violence: There are small amounts of slapstick violence, including throwing things at people, smacking people with various objects, and punching. A man threatens another man with a taser.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: Four uses of terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated February 24, 2022
Clifford the Big Red Dog Parents' Guide
Why do people want to help Emily and Clifford? Why are some people scared of Clifford? What do Emily and the people in her neighborhood learn when they work together?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
There is an entire series of books about Clifford. You can begin with Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell.
If you love the story about a found pet you can try Salina Yoon’s Found in which a bear finds a stuffed toy bunny and anxiously sets out to find its owner.
Corduroy by Don Freeman is a classic picture book about a girl who falls for a stuffed bear when she sees him in the store. Her mother objects, complaining that the bear is missing a button. So that night, Corduroy sets out to find a button.
Related home video titles:
A child loyally protects her precocious pet squirrel from an overzealous animal control officer in Flora & Ulysses.
Because of Winn-Dixie centers around a dog who brings warmth and hope to Opal and her family.