Clifford the Big Red Dog

Clifford the Big Red Dog

2021, PG, 97 min. Directed by Walt Becker. Starring Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Izaac Wang, John Cleese, Tony Hale, Kenan Thompson, David Alan Grier.

REVIEWED By Trace Sauveur, Fri., Nov. 12, 2021

Clifford the Big Red Dog, the new live-action/CGI hybrid adaptation of the enormously popular children’s books first published in 1963, answers that all-encompassing question about the Scholastic icon: Just why is Clifford so big?

If you dig into the official Clifford canon, you’ll find that the answer lies in the first book. Clifford started small but grew to be so large because of the amount of love his owner Emily held for him. This holds true for the film, but with an added layer of actual magic in case that answer wasn’t good enough for you. Here, Clifford is discovered as a small puppy by Mr. Bridwell (the illustrious Cleese, whose character is named after Clifford creator Norman Bridwell himself), an eccentric custodian of various strange animals and creatures. He gives the young pup to Emily (Camp) when she and her uncle Casey (Whitehall) stumble upon his tent of wares, after placing a sort of spell on Clifford (for what purpose is a mystery). Soon enough, Emily’s love turns him into that iconic, mammoth canine.

Emily and Casey face a bevy of complications because of their new, towering master; the incredulous onlookers of New York that turn Clifford into a viral sensation are just the start. Emily and her mom may be facing eviction at the hands of their landlord Packard (Grier), who doesn’t even allow regular-sized pets, let alone this hulking monster. Then there’s genetic engineering mastermind Peter Tieran (Hale, always a pleasure to see) who kickstarts a manhunt to capture the mutt to use in his experiments, turning any protectors into fugitives. Clifford’s impact on the human populace is immeasurable. Everyone is at the chaotic whim of the biggest and reddest of dogs.

The original Clifford books, and even his television shows, were never particularly plot-heavy but were naturally episodic, so it makes sense that the studio comedy update of the franchise would try to give him the big Hollywood movie adventure he’s never had before. It’s not that what happens in the film doesn’t make sense; I’m sure if Clifford were real he would indeed be on the run from scientific corporations backed by police enforcement. And, for what it’s worth, it does try to incorporate themes and iconography from the books, such as Emily riding Clifford like a horse through the streets. It’s the translation from quaint drawings with uncomplicated stories to this over-plotted, garish-looking cluster of modern kids’ movie hallmarks that makes it lose any of its endearing qualities. This is full of manic plot threads constantly fighting each other, seemingly desperate to keep your attention. Unsurprisingly, it also mostly resorts to cheap gags and quips, with situations like Casey almost having to take Clifford’s temperature by putting the thermometer in the place that Kenan Thompson’s veterinarian character describes as rhyming with “nuthole." And don’t worry, you do get to see Clifford spray onlookers with piss (the MPA wasn’t kidding with its PG tag for “impolite humor”).

Watching this vaguely preternatural, shoddily animated interpretation of a beloved character parade around really makes you feel the disconnect between page and screen. Kids should be entertained by the slapstick at least, but by the time it gets to an on-the-lam Clifford being airlifted off an escape boat by a police helicopter, even they might be struck by how disinterested the film is in why this big dog has remained so big in the first place.

Showtimes

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Sat., Nov. 27

1:00, 3:45

Sun., Nov. 28

3:40

Mon., Nov. 29

3:00

Tue., Nov. 30

3:00

Wed., Dec. 1

3:20

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Sat., Nov. 27

CC/DVS 3:10, 8:20

Sun., Nov. 28

CC/DVS 3:10, 8:20

Mon., Nov. 29

CC/DVS 6:20

Tue., Nov. 30

CC/DVS 6:20

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC/DVS 10:40am, 12:15, 2:50, 7:55

Sun., Nov. 28

CC/DVS 10:40am, 12:15, 2:50, 7:55

Mon., Nov. 29

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:30

Tue., Nov. 30

CC/DVS 3:30

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Sat., Nov. 27

digital 10:05am, 1:00, 3:55, 6:40

Sun., Nov. 28

digital 10:05am, 1:00, 3:55, 6:40

Mon., Nov. 29

digital 1:00, 3:55, 6:40

Tue., Nov. 30

digital 1:00, 3:55, 6:40

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Sat., Nov. 27

digital 11:10am, 1:40, 4:00, 6:45

Sun., Nov. 28

digital 11:10am, 1:40, 4:15, 6:45

Mon., Nov. 29

digital 1:40, 4:15, 6:45

Tue., Nov. 30

digital 1:40, 4:15, 6:45

Sat., Nov. 27

digital 11:15am, 1:50, 4:35, 7:10

Sun., Nov. 28

digital 12:15, 2:50, 5:30

Mon., Nov. 29

digital 4:35

Tue., Nov. 30

digital 3:00, 5:40

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Sat., Nov. 27

digital 10:15am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:35

Sun., Nov. 28

digital 10:15am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:35

Mon., Nov. 29

digital 1:05, 3:55, 6:35

Tue., Nov. 30

digital 1:05, 3:55, 6:35

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Nov. 27

digital 10:25am, 1:10, 3:50, 6:50

Sun., Nov. 28

digital 10:25am, 1:10, 3:50, 6:50

Mon., Nov. 29

digital 2:00, 4:50

Tue., Nov. 30

digital 2:00, 4:50

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Sat., Nov. 27

digital 11:00am, 1:30, 4:15, 7:00

Sun., Nov. 28

digital 1:15, 3:45, 6:30

Mon., Nov. 29

digital 4:40, 7:40

Tue., Nov. 30

digital 4:40, 7:40

Sat., Nov. 27

1:30, 4:25, 7:30

Sun., Nov. 28

1:30, 4:25

Mon., Nov. 29

4:25

Tue., Nov. 30

4:25

Wed., Dec. 1

4:25

Thu., Dec. 2

4:25

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Sat., Nov. 27

1:30, 3:50, 7:00, 10:05

Sun., Nov. 28

1:30, 3:50, 7:00

Mon., Nov. 29

1:30, 3:50, 7:00

Tue., Nov. 30

1:30, 3:50, 7:00

Evo Cinemas Belterra

166 Hargraves Ste. A-100, 512/457-0700, www.evocinemas.com/belterra

Sat., Nov. 27

12:30, 3:30, 6:15

Sun., Nov. 28

3:30, 6:30

Mon., Nov. 29

1:15, 4:00, 6:30

Tue., Nov. 30

1:15, 4:00, 6:30

Wed., Dec. 1

1:15, 4:00, 6:30

Thu., Dec. 2

1:15, 4:00, 6:30

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Sat., Nov. 27

9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am, 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:00, 6:30

Sun., Nov. 28

9:30am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:00, 6:30

Mon., Nov. 29

11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30

Tue., Nov. 30

11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30

Wed., Dec. 1

11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30

Thu., Dec. 2

11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30

Film Alley Bastrop

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, bastrop.filmalley.net/

Sat., Nov. 27

11:45am, 3:10

Sun., Nov. 28

11:45am, 3:10

Mon., Nov. 29

11:45am, 3:10

Tue., Nov. 30

11:45am, 3:10

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Sat., Nov. 27

11:30am, 2:45, 6:00

Sun., Nov. 28

11:30am, 2:45, 6:00

Mon., Nov. 29

11:00am, 2:15, 4:30

Tue., Nov. 30

11:00am, 2:15, 4:30

Wed., Dec. 1

11:00am, 2:15, 4:30

Thu., Dec. 2

11:00am, 2:15, 4:30

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC 12:00, 2:25, 4:45

Sun., Nov. 28

CC 12:00, 2:25, 4:45

Mon., Nov. 29

CC 2:00, 4:45, 7:15

Tue., Nov. 30

CC 2:00, 4:45, 7:15

Wed., Dec. 1

CC 2:00, 4:45, 7:15

Thu., Dec. 2

CC 2:00, 4:30, 7:00

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15
CC/DVS 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15

Sun., Nov. 28

CC 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15
CC/DVS 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15

Mon., Nov. 29

CC 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15
CC/DVS 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15

Tue., Nov. 30

CC 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15
CC/DVS 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15

Wed., Dec. 1

CC 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15
CC/DVS 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15

Thu., Dec. 2

CC 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15
CC/DVS 1:15, 4:00, 6:40, 9:15

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Sat., Nov. 27

11:30am, 1:45, 4:00, 6:15, 8:35

Sun., Nov. 28

11:30am, 1:45, 4:00, 6:15

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:20, 6:10

Sun., Nov. 28

CC/DVS 12:30, 3:20, 6:10

Mon., Nov. 29

CC/DVS 7:40

Tue., Nov. 30

CC/DVS 7:40

Wed., Dec. 1

CC/DVS 3:30, 6:30

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC 12:05, 4:05, 6:15
CC/DVS 12:05, 4:05, 6:15

Sun., Nov. 28

CC 12:05, 4:05, 6:15
CC/DVS 12:05, 4:05, 6:15

Mon., Nov. 29

CC 12:05, 4:05, 6:15
CC/DVS 12:05, 4:05, 6:15

Tue., Nov. 30

CC 12:05, 4:05, 6:15
CC/DVS 12:05, 4:05, 6:15

Wed., Dec. 1

CC 12:05, 4:05, 6:15
CC/DVS 12:05, 4:05, 6:15

Thu., Dec. 2

CC 12:05, 4:05, 6:15
CC/DVS 12:05, 4:05, 6:15

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 FM 620 N., Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Sat., Nov. 27

11:45am, 3:00, 6:00

Sun., Nov. 28

11:45am, 3:00, 6:00

Mon., Nov. 29

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

Tue., Nov. 30

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

Wed., Dec. 1

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

Thu., Dec. 2

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Pkwy., Bldg. 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Sat., Nov. 27

11:30am, 3:00, 6:00

Sun., Nov. 28

11:30am, 3:00, 6:00

Mon., Nov. 29

12:30, 3:00, 6:00

Tue., Nov. 30

12:30, 3:00, 6:00

Wed., Dec. 1

1:15, 4:15, 6:00

Thu., Dec. 2

12:30, 3:00, 6:00

Southwest Theaters at Lake Creek 7

13729 Research #1500, 512/291-3158, www.southwesttheaters.com

$6.50 children and senior tickets (all-day), $5 Tuesdays (all tickets), Bargain Matinees before 5pm daily.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00

Sun., Nov. 28

CC 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00

Mon., Nov. 29

CC 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00

Tue., Nov. 30

CC 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00

Wed., Dec. 1

CC 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00

Thu., Dec. 2

CC 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00

Sat., Nov. 27

12:15, 2:45, 5:30

Sun., Nov. 28

12:15, 2:45, 5:30

Mon., Nov. 29

12:15, 2:45, 5:30

Tue., Nov. 30

12:15, 2:45, 5:30

Wed., Dec. 1

12:15, 2:45, 5:30

Thu., Dec. 2

12:15, 2:45, 5:30

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Sat., Nov. 27

CC 12:15, 4:10, 6:35, 10:15

Sun., Nov. 28

CC 12:15, 4:10, 6:35, 10:25

Mon., Nov. 29

CC 11:45am, 3:00, 6:50, 9:15

Tue., Nov. 30

CC 11:45am, 3:00, 6:50, 9:15

Wed., Dec. 1

CC 11:45am, 3:00, 6:50, 9:15

Thu., Dec. 2

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 6:35, 9:00

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Clifford the Big Red Dog, Walt Becker, Darby Camp, Jack Whitehall, Izaac Wang, John Cleese, Tony Hale, Kenan Thompson, David Alan Grier

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