Norman Bridwell was born in Indiana in 1928 and knew from a young age that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating high school, he attended John Herron School of Art at Indiana University and later Cooper Union. He then set out to become a children's book illustrator but was rejected by fifteen different publishing houses before getting a job at Harper & Row. When an editor commented that Norman should make his drawings into a story, a spark was lit, which eventually became a series of children's books beginning with Clifford the Big, Red Dog. The lovable pet had 78 books published in Bridwell's lifetime (with two more published posthumously), a television series, video games, and a live-action motion picture released last year.
Emily Elizabeth (Darby Camp; Big Little Lies) lives in Manhattan with her mom, Maggie (Sienna Guillory; Resident Evil: Afterlife). When Maggie must go on a business trip she asks her brother, Casey (Jack Whitehall; Jungle Cruise), to look after Emily. Together they go to a carnival and investigate the Pet Shelter where they see a tiny puppy named Clifford. Rejecting the idea of adopting the dog, Casey heads back to the apartment only to discover Clifford hiding in Emily's backpack. Casey tells Emily they can keep the dog overnight but must bring him back to the carnival at sunrise. However, having received so much love from Emily, the tiny little dog, Clifford, became a giant overnight. Trying to keep Clifford safe from the large corporation wanting to experiment on him, Emily and her Uncle Casey do the best they can to keep the oversized, red dog hidden but as one would imagine, this is no "small" task (pun intended).
Besides the big, red dog looming large across the screen, the obvious standout amongst the rest of the cast is Darby Camp. Despite her young age, she has several impressive credits to her name and one can tell she has an abundance of talent that should be cultivated. Jack Whitehall is his usual goofy, funny self which adds moments of laugh-out-loud comedy. He and Camp work well together making the whole movie feel like one big warm hug. The rest of the cast blends nicely to offer an overall sense of community... well, except for the bad guy, Tieran (Tony Hale; VEEP).
So many times, when live-action is combined with CGI, the audience can instantly tell. Luckily, that is not the case here. Clifford, the Big, Red Dog is so well incorporated into the live footage that there are hardly any moments when the audience can see the live background doesn't blend with the dog. Otherwise, the video quality is excellent.
The Dolby Atmos audio is equally as strong as the video with full and robust tracks making use of all the surround sound speakers. The dialogue sits comfortably upfront while the ambient sounds can be heard from all around the room. The extras are decent but are a little light in quantity. They include Part of the Pack, Acting is for the Dogs, The Magic of Bridwell, Tips & Tricks for Taking Care of a 10-Foot Dog (in case you intend to get one!), deleted scenes, and a digital code.
Watching as an adult, Clifford the Big, Red Dog is sweet, cute, mildly humorous and a bit of innocent fun. For its intended audience, it is a terrific film that will have young children laughing and entertained for a solid ninety minutes. While the movie isn't cinematic brilliance and it has had its share of pre-release issues, it is pretty well made and enjoyable. It is also getting a sequel so, parents, you better catch up now!