CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG – A Review by John Strange

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG – A Review by John Strange

No one provided me with a free copy of the VOD I reviewed in this blog post; I pay for the subscription to the service out of my own pocket.  The opinions I share are my own.

Sadly, I was born too early to be raised on the Clifford books by Norman Bridwell and published by Scholastic Books.  That said, I have known about them for a long time.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is the origin story for the beloved big red puppy and how he became the BIG puppy owned by Emily Elizabeth Howard (Darby Camp).  The pup was born to a normal momma dog and had three normal siblings.  Momma and the siblings were caught by Animal Control officers, who missed the red puppy during the capture.

The puppy eventually gets free of the warehouse.  He roamed the streets looking for his family and food fighting pigeons for scraps of food.  That is until he encounters Bridwell (John Cleese) who runs an animal rescue.  The rescue operation is not your run-of-the-mill animal rescue, it’s filled with all manner of exotic creatures.

Emily and her Uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) encounter Mr. Bridwell’s tent of pets for adoption on the grounds of her school.  Telling the proprietor that they are simply looking, they cannot adopt right now, Bridwell directs the pair into another room in the tent with no apparent animals.  There, Emily finds the red puppy up a spiral staircase and instantly falls in love.  Uncle Jack stays firm (not easy for him) and insists that the young lady cannot adopt the puppy.  They leave and Emily spends a truly sad day at school being bullied.

That night, following their arrival home, the puppy works his way out of Emily’s backpack.  She names him in a very cute scene where we begin to see the true character of this puppy.  She talks her uncle into letting the puppy stay the night, to be returned to Bridwell the next morning.

Something magical happens as Emily and Clifford prepare to sleep.  Emily makes a wish that comes true overnight, though not in the way she expected.

This is a sweet story with excellent characters portrayed by wonderful acting talent.  It also has an ultra-nasty villain in the person of Zac Tieran (Tony Hale), the owner of a biotechnology company named Lyfegro.  Tieran sees in Clifford the answers to his company’s plan to grow larger animals to feed the world.

While there is some impolite humor, and a couple of rough-around-the-edges characters like Packard (David Alan Grier), the Howard’s building super, and Mrs. Crullerman (Tovah Feldshuh), their crusty, condensed milk-drinking neighbor, this is a good family film that parents will enjoy as much as their children.

While the theatrical run is winding down, you can still gather around your living room TV and enjoy this film on Paramount+ throughout the holiday season.


Director: Walt Becker

Cast: Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Tony Hale, Sienna Guillory, David Alan Grier, Russell Wong, John Cleese

MPAA Rating: PG (for impolite humor, thematic elements, and mild action)

Selig Rating: 5 Stars

Runtime: 96 Min.

Based On: the Scholastic Book Series “Clifford the Big Red Dog” by Norman Bridwell

Release Date: 11/10/2021

Local Release Locations: Nationwide, and Paramount+

Movie Site: CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG Official Site



The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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