Clifford's Really Big Movie

on April 20, 2004 by Bridget Byrne
Clifford's bigness is very much part of what makes him so cute. But the same can't be said about "Clifford's Really Big Movie." The idea to broaden the scale and scope of the huge red dog's adventures somehow dilutes the simple, sweet appeal of those short little tales of Emily Elizabeth's house-sized canine companion, which are such an endearing part of children's television.

But despite the movie's rather unoriginal story--that age-old plot about running off to the join the circus--at least the filmmakers have created something which, though a little bland, is never crass or vulgar. A discrete burp from T-Bone is the worst you will hear.

Thinking he's too costly a pet and should pay his way--although those rides Emily Elizabeth (voiced by Grey Delisle) takes on his back are well worth their weight in joy--Clifford lopes off Birdwell Island to join a traveling animal act in hopes of winning a life-time supply of nosh. His doggie chums, Cleo (Cree Summer) and T-Bone (Kel Mitchell) tag along, while his human friends are left to worry.

Among those he meets up with on his big adventure are a klutzy tightrope-walking cow (Jenna Elfman), an ambitious trapeze artist ferret (Wayne Brady) and a few humans, not all wishing to do well by him. But, of course, living up to Clifford's example, big hearts win out in the end.

The animation is clean, clear and colorful and the dialogue uncomplicated. There are a handful of rather half-hearted songs and no real surprises. But the earnest kindness and wonderful gentle exuberance of Clifford, enhanced by the matching qualities of the voice of the late John Ritter, make for a gigantic romping red dog filled with personal happiness and love of friends and family--a good message whatever scale the messenger. Voiced by John Ritter, Wayne Brady, Jenna Elfman, John Goodman and Wilmer Valderrama. Directed by Robert Ramirez. Written by Rhett Reese and Robert Ramirez. Produced by Deborah Forte. A Warner Bros. release. Animated/Family. Rated G. Running time: 73 min

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