Movie reviews for films like "Clifford the Big Red Dog" are a bit pointless...like, who is this for? The target audience for the movie (children under the age of six or Guantanamo Bay prisoners) are not going to be checking RottenTomatoes to see if this is a film worth checking out. Is a negative or (gasp!) a positive review of this film going to deter parents from taking their young ones to the movie? Most likely no. So for real...what's the point?
If you're a parent, you likely have more access and insight to "kids movies" than the average movie-goer who only gets to see what comes to multiplexes...most of those without children have never experienced or explored the depth of the unlimited amount of movies aimed at young children that can be found in the dark abyss of streaming sites like Disney+ or Paramount+. So there is a BIG difference between a "good" kids movie and a terrible one...we've all seen both. The best kid movies are able to keep the attention of a young child, and at best, offer a valuable life lesson about friendship, family, teamwork, compassion or love. At worst, this kind of film is still watchable by children, but will make parents want to gouge their eyes out. Because let's face it: Children will watch almost anything, especially with a bag of popcorn and some candy on their laps.
"Clifford the Big Red Dog" is sadly in a category all its own. Where even young children may be turned off to the idea of ever watching a movie again, or ever again trusting mom and dad to take them to a movie theater with confidence. Don't take it from me, but from my own five-year-old son - who happens to be a big fan of "Clifford" in book and TV show forms - who turned to me 30 minutes into the movie and asked politely if he could go home.
Following up with him on the way out to the car (we did end up staying for the film), he said he wanted to watch it when we got home..."Really?" I said. "I thought you didn't like it?" "Oh I didn't," my son replied. "I just want to show mommy how bad it was."
There's your review of "Clifford the Big Red Dog," a movie that technically contains a big red dog named Clifford, with none of the charm of the beloved character, with no discernible plot, with zero life lessons or morals to the story, and with horrendous acting from all involved (the bigger names include John Cleese, Jack Whitehall and Horatio Sanz, the SNL-alum who just recently was accused of sexually assaulting a minor). Gone our the usual lessons about friendship, or using Clifford to use his talents to help his community...this version replaces that one with a dog that farts and pees his way into the hearts and minds of his audience members. Apparently, this is the best version of the character that the filmmakers could imagine.
Future trivia question: What was the worst film ever made by director Walt Becker? If you guessed "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip," you are no longer correct. "Van Wilder" is also a good guess, but no. This man deserves the Razzies version of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in whatever the opposite of excellence in filmmaking is.
Of course, none of this matters. Go see it! Take your kids! just know that everyone involved can do better.
Genre: Family, Adventure, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes.
Starring: Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Izaac Wang, John Cleese, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, David Alan Grier, Horatio Sanz, Paul Rodriguez.
Directed by Walt Becker ("Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip," "Old Dogs," "Wild Hogs," "Van Wilder").
"Clifford the Big Red Dog" is in theaters and streaming on Paramount+ on Wednesday, November 10th, 2021.
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