Director: Walt Becker
I dunno. This is for very small kids, but it also felt like it wasted a lot of goodwill and a lot of potential. Clifford is a character I don't think about much as I am 47 and I have no children. But I think if all you can think to do is make a boilerplate kiddie movie that seems lifted from every kiddie movie since Uncle Wat turned his attention to live-action, I dunno. He's a big fucking dog. Workshop that shit.
The movie is chock full of cameos and small roles for known talent and looks like they spent some money on it. It's a beloved and well known character, and... it kinda feels like they didn't really know what to do once they got the rights.
It also takes place in the city, which... look, maybe the first book is urban, but Clifford is a suburban character. NYC is a lot of things, but it is not a place where a giant dog is going to fit terribly well long term (he wrote as his own giant dog put his massive noggin on his hand and keyboard). Like - look, the 'burbs are more dull and less diverse than Harlem - but this is also a fictional movie, and/ or could have been in a small town? I don't get the setting. It's okay to country-fi that story.
Maybe the thing that was weirdest about the movie is that it desperately wants to be about *something*, and the thing Clifford had going for him in his origin story is the power of love (to turn a small sickly puppy into a giant dog). But the movie decides to be about accepting something/ someone who is different. But then it's about very White people in gentrifying Harlem who seem boringly ordinary, even the wacky uncle who needs to grow up borrowed from every movie, ever.
I'm all about messages of "hey, don't fear something because it's different or you don't understand it", but the speech at the end is wildly nonsensical and unearned. Being "new to school" is not weird or different, it's... an uncomfortable period of adjustment (I moved 3 times during my school years. You adjust.). Our Emily Elizabeth is a pretty standard kid. She doesn't have a third eye or something. She's "poor", but NYC giant apartment poor. Normal in her world is having a 27 million dollar loft.
Honestly - who wrote this thing?
Anyway. I thought the cast looked like they were having fun, Clifford was cute and the last act was at least kind of fun/ funny. I wouldn't not show this to a small child. But I also am disappointed that this is the Clifford movie we got. It's better than the Air Buddies movies by a country mile, but it's still... meh. Gimme a trick or treating Clifford of GTFO.
Paddington raised the bar for timeless children's characters into movies, studios. Work harder.