“Magic is all around us if you just know where to look.” – Mr. Bridwell
Let me start out by saying: Clifford The Big Red Dog is a magical family film. We were offered an exclusive opportunity to view an advanced screening courtesy of eOne, and my boys loved it! The movie has a decidedly innocent throwback appeal; generations of fans of the original literary series have already fallen in love with the over-the-top main character and this movie has been long awaited by children and their parents alike! Here’s the official movie synopsis:
When middle-schooler Emily Elizabeth (Darby Camp) meets a magical animal rescuer (John Cleese) who gifts her a little, red puppy, she never anticipated waking up to find a giant ten-foot hound in her small New York City apartment. While her single mom (Sienna Guillory) is away for business, Emily and her fun but impulsive uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) set out on an adventure that will keep you on the edge-of-your-seat as our heroes take a bite out of the Big Apple. Based on the beloved Scholastic book character, Clifford will teach the world how to love big!
Beyond the lure of memorable and familiar territory, the movie shines in a few distinct ways:
Smooth Kid Humour. Granted, there is a fart joke or two (I did say KID humour) – but what I love most about Clifford The Big Red Dog is how it’s a simple, “keeps kids smiling” kind of movie. Emily Elizabeth is a relatable heroine who is easy to root for. Uncle Casey is the funny, loveable uncle that every child idolizes and drives the comic relief for much of the movie. And of course, the antics by Clifford himself will leave kids in stiches and parents chuckling. While there are times when more serious storylines are presented (themes of school bullying, corruption and separation), the movie steers audiences back to lighter, more heartwarming territory at a skilled pace. When my child smiles throughout a movie, that makes me smile, too.
Teachable Moments. “Love wins” is the prominent teachable moment for Clifford The Big Red Dog, and I’m here for it. As a parent, I’ve been spending more and more time instilling in my children that their differences are what make them special, unique – and for those differences in others that are unfamiliar to them, to approach them with kindness and love. It’s nice to see those exact sentiments expressed in this movie! There’s nothing more different, more unique than a Big Red Dog – and he’s AWESOME!
Believe in Magic. Granted, adults know Clifford is a CGI creation. But, not all children do – and I love the idea that some kids will leave the theatre, still believing in magic and miracles. It’s a small part of child innocence that we want them to hang onto for as long as humanly possible, and movies like Clifford The Big Red Dog are a refreshing change from the real-world content is consumed by children via social media. For older children, the movie takes on a different kind of magic – by way of career inspo! My 11-year old immediately searched for the animation studio online (Illumination) to see some of their previous work.
Clifford The Big Red Dog is now playing in theatres across Canada.
Special thanks to eOne for the opportunity to attend an advanced screening.