Clifford's Really Big Movie
Directed by Robert Ramirez. Voices by John Ritter, Wayne Brady, Kath Soucie, Cree Summer, Cam Clarke, John Goodman, Jenna Elfman, Kel Mitchell, Judge Reinhold. (2004, G, 73 min.)
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Feb. 27, 2004
In my day, the outsized creatures that roamed the movies were irradiated tarantulas and grasshoppers terrorizing the populace with their craven bloodlust, byproducts of a natural order gone amok in the nuclear age. The titular, larger-than-life beast in the animated film Clifford’s Really Big Movie, however, is a big red dog the size of a small neighborhood, a canine more apt to lick a human being to death than to chomp one in half. Adapted from the now-canceled PBS cartoon series, Clifford’s Really Big Movie brings the lovable mutt to the big screen with a benign sweetness that kids will enjoy and parents will find tolerable. The plot is simple enough for, well, a 5-year-old to follow: Well-meaning Clifford runs away from home with his pals Cleo and T-Bone to join the circus, in the hopes of winning a contest that will provide his owners with a lifetime supply of Tummy Yummies, his favorite brand of dog food. Soon, the broken-down act of "Larry and His Amazing Animals" is a big hit, thanks to Clifford’s gargantuan contributions, but complications ensue, of course. The film’s best comic moments come when the ragtag animal act struggles to perform without literally bringing down the house. It’s too bad that the characterizations are so one-dimensional, given the potential for some real fun here. By the film’s end, there are lessons learned about confidence, trust, and friendship, all of which will probably make only a slight impression on the film’s targeted audience of kindergarteners, who will be more entranced with the movie’s eye candy (the colors here are supersaturated) and the silly antics of its motley crew. As far as animated flicks go, Clifford’s Really Big Movie is third-string Disney, but don’t tell that to the kids.