Warner Home Video presents
Clifford's Really Big Movie (2004)
“You’re the best, Clifford!”- Emily Elizabeth (Grey Delisle)
Stars: John Ritter, Grey Delisle, Judge Reinhold, Wayne Brady
Director: Robert C. Ramirez
MPAA Rating: GRun Time: 01h:14m:23s
Release Date: 2004-08-24
DVD ReviewWell, a really big dog needs a really big movie, doesn’t he? Clifford is a great favorite of generations of children now; as you probably know, he’s a huge, happy dog the size of a battleship, and he lives on Birdwell Island with Emily Elizabeth and her family. Clifford pals around with two typically sized dogs: Cleo, a prissy little poodle, and T-Bone, a bulldog with a sweet, put-me-in-coach demeanor. Norman Bridwell’s popular series of books about Clifford spawned a television show, which in turn spawned this movie, one that’s sure to live up to all the expectations of Emily Elizabeth’s peers and Clifford’s fans of all sizes.
Clifford mishears a conversation between Emily Elizabeth’s parents and the neighbors, and the poor dog comes to think that he’s a terrible burden to his family, downing his favorite Tummy Yummies by the truckload—how are they to keep up with the expense? Well, old Clifford hatches a plan: funnily enough, the Tummy Yummies people are running a talent show, and the grand prize is a lifetime supply of Tummy Yummies. (Feeding a doggie the size of eighteen elephants cannot be what the parent corporation had in mind, no doubt, even if it’s fictional and animated.) So, along with Cleo and T-Bone, Clifford absconds for show business.
He’ll get to glory by hitching his star to Larry’s Amazing Animals, a pretty sorry circus act headlined by Shackelford ferret; especially endearing in the circus troupe is Dorothy, the trapeze artist cow with vertigo. What will happen when Clifford replaces Shackelford as the headliner? Will Clifford win his Tummy Yummies and get back to Emily Elizabeth? Or will the evil Mr. Wolfsbottom, Tummy Yummies proprietor, make off with Clifford for more nefarious ends?
It’s all a pretty safe, entertaining bit of family drama, and if you or your kids like the Clifford books or the TV show, you’re sure to love this. It shares some similar plot developments with Pinocchio and A Bug’s Life—beware of a life in the arts and the ragtag dangerous types you’ll meet—and this really big movie may not be in the league of those others, but it all works pretty well. The animation is of a significantly higher quality than what you’ll find on the small screen, and some well-known actors contribute warm voice-over work. Most notable, certainly, is the late John Ritter, who provides the voice for Clifford; he sees to it that there’s nothing even remotely threatening about the pooch, even if he’s as big as a dozen minivans. (The movie is in fact dedicated to Ritter.) Wayne Brady makes for an especially sly ferret, and though Emily Elizabeth doesn’t get all that much screen time—Clifford is mostly on the road—Grey Delisle makes her likable without being saccharine. The movie is padded out with a couple of guitar-strumming interludes, which seem to have less to do with the storytelling, and are more in the interest of moving some soundtrack CDs.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen||1.33:1 - P&S|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||no|
Image Transfer Review: In either the widescreen or pan-and-scan iteration, the movie is heavily saturated, bright and steady. The animation isn’t on the level of Pixar or DreamWorks, but it’s a significant step up from what you’ll find on TV on Saturday mornings.
Image Transfer Grade: B
|English, French, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: A pretty clear transfer, though bass gets short shrift in some of the dynamics, and at the very top of the register, things can sound a little reedy.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Not a huge package of extras, but more than you’ll find on many other kids’ titles. Inside the Dog House: Behind the Scenes (07m:08s) is a fluffy bit of interviews, principally with the voice-over actors. You can make your own Clifford by following along with one of the big red dog’s pals in Cleo’s Crafts (08m:30s), which even provides a list of supplies you’ll need to get from Mom and Dad. There’s a canine music video, called Big Time, which is offered both with and without sing-along titles; and two story read-alongs, allowing the newest readers in your house to sharpen their skills.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsGood clean fun, if you’re big or little, or on two legs or four.
Jon Danziger 2004-09-21