The new film adaptation about the classic red dog Clifford is literally called “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
The film provokes nostalgia for Gen-Z audiences and their parents alike. The new movie adaptation uses real people and hybrid-CGI for the dogs to bring this narrative back to life.
“Clifford” is not another cringey movie with a cheesy talking dog. In fact, the dog is a normal puppy that happens to grow to be abnormally large and thankfully lacks speaking abilities.
This movie is also incredibly funny, thanks to a writing team for the production. The character Casey, portrayed by Jack Whitehall, is Emily Elizabeth’s uncle and is arguably the most hilarious character in the film.
Uncle Casey is a new character in the universe of “Clifford the Big Red Dog”, however, his addition did not detract from any of the important and likable qualities of the franchise.
Another noticeable difference is the protagonist Emily Elizabeth, portrayed by Darby Camp, is generally said to be around seven or eight years old, but in the movie she’s 12 and already in middle-school.
Although these changes seem minor, the plot had also been fundamentally altered as a result.
For example, in the well-known PBS TV show “Clifford the Big Red Dog”, Emily Elizabeth receives Clifford as a gift for her sixth birthday, and to her and her family’s surprise, Clifford grows to about 20 feet tall. This results in her family moving to Birdwell Island to accommodate Clifford’s new size. None of this occurs in the newer adaption.
In this live-action version, irresponsible Uncle Casey is called upon to babysit his niece Emily Elizabeth for a few days in New York City while her mother is out of town. Emily Elizabeth is a lot more sassy in this film compared to how she was portrayed in the past, which makes more sense considering the vast age difference.
The age difference is actually better for this film and for its target audience. Most Clifford fans have grown up over the years, so it makes sense Emily Elizabeth would too. The writers gave her more personality and chose to present her as a more relatable character.
Emily Elizabeth sees herself as standing out amongst her peers in a negative way, much like Clifford was being seen by the public when he had grown in this movie. She also is targeted by a bully in her school and made fun of by the kids who came from wealthier families, giving more depth to her character, as well as insight to her life.
In this version Clifford also helps her get through difficult things emotionally rather than simply physically, which is a lot more realistic.
With the focus being more on Emily Elizabeth’s life in this new and improved version, there was a cut to the previous cast of dog characters that appeared in the cartoon.
In the PBS version, Clifford had dog friends who taught children about real ideas and accompanied him on adventures. Even though the audience got to see more of Emily Elizabeth, this also meant losing the iconic dog characters.
There is a possibility the writers would try to introduce those characters in a possible sequel, but the introduction of Clifford’s canine friends would mean adding the talking in for the dogs, which they may decide to skip in this movie.
Another awesome addition is the enchanting character Mr. Bridwell, which pays homage to the deceased children’s author who wrote Clifford, Norman Bridwell.
Bidwell’s character is the first person to find Clifford who had been wandering the streets of New York alone in search of help as he had been tragically separated from his mother and siblings in the beginning of the film.
He then united Clifford with Emily and her uncle by mysteriously placing the dog in her school bag. This part was definitely strange, as Clifford had supposedly been in her school bag the whole day and no one noticed.
However, maybe that’s just how childhood magic and imagination are supposed to work.
Similar to the old version, Clifford grows larger and larger based on the amount of love Emily Elizabeth has to give him. These themes are consistent in both versions of “Clifford”, which ties the PBS cartoon with the movie adaptation seamlessly.
The new “Clifford the Big Red Dog” is available for streaming on Paramount Plus or in theaters. Don’t miss the live action version of Emily Elizabeth riding Clifford through the streets of New York. Audiences are up for a real dog treat with this one.
Madison Wanco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.