Childhood Memories Meets the Big Screen


Clifford The Big Red Dog

[4 out of 5 on a children’s movie scale]

Growing up in the 2000s, there is one image ingrained in my memory; that of a giant, red dog named Clifford. I have plenty of memories of watching the television show and reading picture books about Clifford.

Yet what I remember most is the stuffed animal Clifford that I had as a toddler. I look back at photo albums and see myself holding Clifford everywhere I went.

Fast forward 18 years to lying on my couch mindlessly watching television when a commercial caught my eye. Again, it is quite hard to miss an adorable, giant, red dog on your screen.

When I saw a new Clifford movie had been released, I knew I had to watch it as both a dog-lover and as an ode to my childhood.

“Clifford the Big Red Dog” was directed by Walter Becker and released on November 10, 2021.

Becker also directed movies such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” and “Zookeeper.”

Clifford is not exactly intended for older audiences and its PG rating definitely targets little kids. The rating from Rotten Tomatoes was 58%, but that did not stop me from watching and enjoying the movie.

The movie starts with a family of puppies being removed from the warehouse where they had once lived. One puppy was forgotten, Clifford. Lost and alone, Clifford wanders the streets looking for his family when he is picked up by a stranger.

Now, Clifford isn’t any ordinary dog, he’s even a “radioactive micro-dog,” but this will not be the case for long. The mysterious stranger who picks up Clifford brings him back to his animal adoption tent, where Clifford finds a home with one little girl, Emma, under the supervision of her “no-rules” uncle.

When Emma asks the mysterious stranger just how big Clifford will get, the stranger responded with a curious response.

“It all depends on how much you love him.”

That night, as Emma snuggles Clifford to bed, she cries, worried that she will have to bring Clifford back to the animal adoption tent the next day.

“I wish we were big and strong, and the world couldn’t hurt us,” Emma says as a tear drop onto Clifford’s back.

When Emma wakes up the next morning, she thinks she is dreaming. Despite pinching herself to see if she is awake, she is face to face with a giant red dog. From the runt of the litter to an elephant-sized puppy, Emma cannot understand how Clifford had grown so much in just one night.

Clifford’s size, however, seems to cause more problems than originally thought, and as a result, Emma and Clifford must run through New York City on an adventure to escape their pursuers.

The budget for this movie was $107.3 million. I think that with their budget, they did a superb job on the graphics for a 10-foot-tall dog. I would have thought that it would be difficult to make something so unrealistic look so real, but Paramount Studios managed to do just that.

In the article “The Truth Behind ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’” by Gitanjali Poonia, Poonia talks about how Clifford was brought to life with CGI.

She talks about how “Rowan Magee and Jon Riddleberger, wore matching red shoes and knee-length shorts to camouflage as they carried the dog’s body around New York City.”

The exoskeleton weighed 75 pounds and required an immense amount of physical strength. Their dedication and commitment to filming this movie was the backbone to creating a realistic Clifford.

I recommend everyone watch this film. While it obviously won’t challenge your brain or have any unexpected twists and turns, it is entertaining to watch the adventures of an adorable red dog.

Keep in mind, however, that the movie is not intended for an adult audience, and instead watch it from the eyes of a child who is simply excited to see a giant, red dog.

I enjoyed learning more about the Clifford from my childhood with a more modern twist.