Clifford the Big Red Dog Film Review: PBS Show is Transformed into Live Action Masterpiece

By Naniyah McClain

Student Lifestyle Editor

In Sept. of 2000, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” American/British animated educational television series that most children held near and dear to their hearts. Fast forward to Nov. 2021, the show has been completely transformed into a star-studded, live and action packed film.

In the “Clifford the Big Red Dog” film, (available on Paramount +/Showtime) a sweet and clever 12 year old prep school student, Emily Elizabeth Howard, played by Darby Camp, is being watched by her irresponsible uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) after her mother leaves for Chicago for work.

Emily and Uncle Casey discover a tiny red puppy in a “Tentus Animalus Rescuus,.  a green animal rescue tent owned by the whimsical Bridwell (John Cleese), who magically appears when he is needed. 

When Emily wakes up the next morning, she is face to face with a giant, lovable crimson dog. According to Bridwell, Clifford would grow, depending on how much Emily loves him.

Even with the tear-jerking beginning, all hope is replenished once Bridwell finds Clifford and embraces the tiny red puppy with open arms and a kiss.

“Just because you’re lost, doesn’t mean you’re any less of a treasure,” said Bridwell.

The neighborhood is packed with eclectic characters who make the storyline humorous and interesting. There is a stern landlord by the name of Packard, played by Tony Award Winning actor, David Allen Grier who refers to his tenants by their apartment numbers. Malik (Russell Peters) —also known as “Malik the Magnificent” — is an aspiring but struggling Magician who lives in Emily’s building. Emily’s neighbor, Mrs. Crullerman is a nonchalant, raspy voiced woman. Lawyer couple Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis (Keith Enwell and Bear Allen-Blaine) are sharp and quick witted characters who speak to each other in “legalese.” Owen is Emily’s awkward but intelligent friend from prep school.

Star of “SNL” Keenan Thompson played Clifford’s veterinarian. Actress and choreographer, Rosie Perez played the veterinarian’s assistant Lucille.

Tensions rise as the evil mastermind and CEO of biotech firm “Lyfegro,” Zac Tieran (Tony Hale), makes an attempt to capture Clifford for research purposes. This influences the eclectic neighborhood characters to come together, using their individual, unique talents to rescue Clifford.

Emily has a special connection with Clifford because of their uniqueness (Emily being bullied for being a lower class student in a top notch prep school in upper Manhattan and Clifford being a giant puppy).

“He’s not dangerous, he’s just unique, that’s all,” said Emily.

From the police chases, Clifford dodging between cars and bicycles in upper Manhattan, a comical food fight, to Clifford playing with giant walking balls with people in them, the film was filled with action packed fun from start to finish.

Seeing Clifford accidentally knocking things over as a colossal red puppy who doesn’t know his own strength pushes the film forward. Most of the humor can be seen in Clifford’s humanlike facial expressions. The constant visual of the gigantic red dog running through the streets of New York will leave the audience at the edge of their seats.

Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021) is a great film for children who enjoy action packed, cute and adventurous movies with themes like friendship, love, unity and the power of being unique.

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Clifford the Big Red Dog Film Review: PBS Show is Transformed into Live Action Masterpiece

Art by Naniyah McClain