Scholastic is updating their look with the cinematic update of their fondest property, CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG. It’s about time to make him CGI rather than just a drawing. I doubt creator Norman Bridwell would have issues even when he was alive, when the decision to make a movie was being tossed back and forth between studios. As for who will catch and not let go to put it into development took years.
A few bits from the early books are acknowledged and Lifegrow Labs is added. I suspect this conflict is new. Peter Tieran (Tony Hale) is the CEO of this firm and he wants the canine because he holds the key to super-sizing the world. Is that needed? McDonalds is big enough, and Walmart, don’t get me started…
All those tropes typical for high school tales are used. Emily (Darby Camp) has to find courage in standing up herself. The older students are bullying her. This subplot lacks substance because we don’t know much about the girl leading the wolf’s pack. I’d rather watch TROLLHUNTERS instead because in this animated series, Steve gets redemption, and isn’t that what a Scholastic product is supposed to represent? The plot segues by; instead of giving closure to this subplot by dealing with her peers, it’s with Tieran.
I would’ve preferred one well-defined plot than two. Had it dealt with only Lifegro, then maybe we’d get a different tale about how Clifford came to the girl’s life and explain why the canine became big. A lot of antics included expands this film’s runtime and the jokes are plenty for those who raised a dog.
But the real reason behind the growth in how Mr. Bridwell (John Cleese) made it so. When this actor isn’t playing smarmy types, he’s famous for–namely Mr. Fawlty in FAWLTY TOWERs–he’s as charming as a puppy himself. Like the books, he’s more of a background character. Had this film dealt more about his flying circus of magical creatures, it’d be a different story altogether.
Thankfully, the writers stuck with the concept that Bridwell streamlined. Too much action and humour can ruin why this series existed in the first place. The film’s heart is in the right place with us seeing how Emily develops that strength when dealing with bullies and adults. But when it doesn’t coalesce right, it’s as slippery as a dog’s drool and can whip the message by too fast, where everyone misses it.
CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG is now playing in theatres.