Big Rotten Tomatoes


Leo Crane

From ringing the NASDAQ’s closing bell to chasing human-sized hamster balls in the park, Clifford made his way back onto the big screen for a modern twist on a story older than students at Terra Linda. This particular story follows a young girl named Emily and her uncle Casey as they try to hide their big red dog, Clifford, from Emily’s mother as well as the metropolis of New York. 


This was the first attempt at a live-action version of Clifford so I had set my expectations low. The movie started out slow with a few cheesy jokes that gave the feeling of a cheesy 90’s sitcom. The movie progressed at a confusing pace with events happening back to back with no time in between, leaving some of the audience puzzled. Although movies that are typically targeted towards kids often accelerate the movie to keep engagement high, it felt that director Walt Beker overdid it with the assumption that his audiences have no attention span. 


A prospective parent that would see the film, our favorite math teacher Dr. Foster, watched the trailer and had a completely different perspective. She lit up after watching the trailer and was more than excited to see the movie, stating, “I can honestly not wait to take my kid to that movie,” is the first thing that Foster said. Foster went on to say that it isn’t necessarily about the movie itself, it is about taking your kid to see it and making them happy. From her perspective, the movie was made for a young audience that isn’t  designed to make the parents laugh or love it.  


To add to Dr. Foster’s initial reaction, the movie admittedly had its moments. There were times when all twelve people in the audience laughed. Even though the bizarre trailer left me less than enthusiastic about watching it– there was something about how Clifford was rendered into those few seconds that threw me off and made me have no desire to watch the movie–I saw this as a challenge to find the good in the movie.

There were a total of five times that I genuinely laughed during this movie. That is approximately one laugh every 19 minutes in this hour and thirty-six-minute long movie. This outburst didn’t happen until the middle of the movie when it got so bad that it was good. There was a scene where they overused dramatic irony so much that I could basically predict everything that was going to happen. The most notable of the bunch was when the protagonists were running through their shop, closed a door, and barricaded it so the antagonists couldn’t get through. Sure enough, the door opened the other way. This happened six more times throughout the scene. 


Thinking back to my 4-year-old self going to my first movie, I would bet that I would be crying and traumatized by seeing the heroes challenged this way. In fact, by the end of the movie, all of the kids in the audience were crying–not because of the horrid CGI but because of the story. I won’t bag on the story because it followed the hero’s journey perfectly. It followed the most basic form of storytelling and the film felt very formulaic. The actors in most of the scenes didn’t look like they put much effort into their roles and all the scenes seemed to be done in one take. Granted, they looked like they were having a good time doing it, but everything felt phoned in. 


Overall I’d have to agree with the Rotten Tomato score of 54% and I don’t think I’d see it again unless I had kids. Don’t go if you’re over the age of 12, don’t have kids, or if you enjoyed the original Clifford. After my initial interview with Dr. Foster, she decided to take her kids to the movie, and they all thoroughly enjoyed it.  Her daughter Kate went as far to say that “Clifford is a hero.”