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1 item from 2004

Clifford's Really Big Movie

9 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Warner Bros. Pictures

NEW YORK -- This low-budget animated feature, adapted from the PBS television series, is the latest example of a distressing wave of undistinguished theatrical versions of Saturday-morning kid shows.

"Clifford's Really Big Movie" belies its name with its formulaic storytelling and lackluster animation. Notable only for having the voice of the late John Ritter for its title character, the film is clearly making only a quick pit stop in theaters in various cities (New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Austin, Texas) on its way to home video.

Adapted from the classic series of books written by Norman Bridwell, the series and film present the adventures of Clifford, a giant-sized, adorable Red Dog living with a loving family on the rustic Birdwell Island. Thanks to his gargantuan appetite, Clifford requires huge amounts of his favorite dog food. When he becomes convinced that he's eating his family out of house and home, he and his regular-sized canine pals Cleo and T-Bone run away to join a traveling animal circus.

The goal is to win a contest offering a prize of a lifetime supply of dog food. Along the way, he comes across various shady characters, including the circus ringmaster (Judge Reinhold), a performing ferret (Wayne Brady) and a pet food company owner (John Goodman) who takes him prisoner.

Only the youngest of tots will find the simple story line and bland visuals diverting, but there is an amiable sweetness and calm about the whole enterprise that many parents will find as a soothing alternative to hyperactive kiddie entertainment like the "Pokemon" series. They might also enjoy the prominent voice talents involved, which also includes Jenna Elfman. The film is dedicated to Ritter, whose sweet, guileless voice was perfectly suited to the lovable central character. »

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