Get ready to love big! Based on the beloved children’s book series, Clifford the Big Red Dog jumps into theaters and Paramount+ on November 10, 2021. Will this family comedy steal our hearts? Is Clifford the Big Red Dog kid-friendly? I’m breaking down all of the thematic elements, including its PG rating, in my Clifford the Big Red Dog Parents Guide and Movie Review. Here’s what parents need to know to help YOU decide if it’s appropriate for kids. As always, no spoilers!
Clifford the Big Red Dog Parents Guide + Movie Review
The stories of Clifford the Big Red Dog have been around for a long time. Chances are you may have grown up with Clifford, as the book by Norman Bridwell was published in 1963. To FINALLY see this big lovable dog on the big screen, is a dream come true. I feel like Clifford has rightfully earned this spot, and this film is really his time to shine.
Emily Elizabeth (Darby Camp) and Clifford have a lot in common. Clifford is a tiny pup who was separated from his family. He’s all alone and scared. Emily is a new student at her school in New York City. She’s having her own struggles, being bullied by the “mean girls.”
Clifford and Emily both need each other, and Mr. Bridwell (John Cleese) is able to see that. Mr. Bridwell can best be described as a magical man who rescues animals. His name and character is a wonderful tribute to author, Norman Bridwell.
Darby Camp is going places, y’all!! She is phenomenal as Emily Elizabeth and plays the part to perfection. You might remember her from The Christmas Chronicles and Big Little Lies. Expect to see MUCH more of her in the future.
Jack Whitehall plays Emily’s Uncle Casey, who has a reputation of being irresponsible and impulsive. Jack even refers to Casey as a giant kid and said he could relate to his character because he’s a bit of a man child himself. You might remember Whitehall from his scene stealing role in Disney’s Jungle Cruise.
Uncle Casey and Emily Elizabeth are the PERFECT pair! Casey will keep you rolling with uncontrollable laughter, while Emily brings the sarcastic snark. Their characters truly bring out the best in each other.
Everyone has been talking about that giant CGI red dog. There’s been some criticism with how Clifford appears on screen, and to be honest with you, I wasn’t entirely sold with my first look. However, I will say that while watching the movie, the CGI animation works. Clifford is very life-like looking. I also love how they captured his expressions. You were truly able to feel Clifford’s emotion.
IS CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG KID-FRIENDLY? HERE’S YOUR PARENTS GUIDE:
Based off of the well-known children’s book series, you would expect the Clifford movie to be kid-friendly. With that being said, we all know that sometimes there’s certain elements hidden within films that might make parents give a side-eye. Here’s what parents need to know before their children watch Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Clifford the Big Red Dog has an MPAA rating of PG for impolite humor, thematic elements, and mild action. It has a runtime of 1 hour 37 minutes. While the time duration is the sweet spot for little ones, just how much did they keep it PG? Let’s break down those “thematic elements” and take a closer look.
When “mild action” is mentioned, you can usually count on their being some level of violence. There were a few scenes where our characters were in moments of peril. Clifford almost gets hit by a car and there is a chase scene where the “bad guys” are trying to capture Clifford.
One character claims to be a magician and mentions cutting another character in half. There is a man hanging from a building and there is some cruelty shown towards animals.
Other scenes involve hitting, punching, and throwing objects at others. Tranquilizer guns are also used.
The language in Clifford the Big Red Dog is VERY mild, thankfully. There is no profanity, however, I did catch use of the words “sucks” and “freak.” Freak was also in reference to a child.
Sensitive and Mature Content
There is quite a bit of heavy bullying in Clifford the Big Red Dog. Emily Elizabeth is a new student at her school, and her classmates are just not very nice. In fact, one of them actually says to her, “You’re an accident. You shouldn’t even be here.” That’s pretty harsh and certainly has the potential to be triggering for some children.
The death of a parent is briefly mentioned, as is homelessness.
There’s a bit of your usual potty humor. For example, Clifford sniffs someone’s rear end, and you also see his butt crack. Clifford also urinates on a tree and it splashes people. Another scene, which is shown in the trailer, is where Clifford accidently licks up a smaller dog, and in return regurgitates him. Of course kids will find these scenes hilarious, but parents always appreciate a heads up.
I watched Clifford the Big Red Dog with my 7 year old son. And as I told Darby and Jack at the press junket, he’s seriously the toughest critic I know. Avery doesn’t hold back. Ever. If he doesn’t like something, he is not afraid to let you know. He refuses to hide it. I sometimes envy his transparency, because he really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He is honest to the core. Avery LOVED Clifford. Seriously, adored it. He was laughing SO hard, and was talking about all of his favorite scenes afterwards. He cannot wait to watch it with his big brother.
Clifford the Big Red Dog is a wonderful family film. I truly feel all ages, young and young at heart, will enjoy this movie. It has something for everyone. I would recommend it for ages 6 and up. Younger kids who sit well during movies and are familiar with the book series might also like this one. Just keep in mind that it’s live-action and sometimes those little ones do better with animation.
I was expecting to enjoy Clifford the Big Red Dog, however, I wasn’t expecting to adore the story as much a I did. It was truly heartwarming and filled with so many great messages that kids and adults need to hear. Clifford teaches us to celebrate our differences. They’re what make us who we are. Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary? Big love. Big Adventure. Big Heart. Clifford the Big Red Dog teaches us to believe in magic and ourselves. This is one family film you don’t want to miss. I think Norman Bridwell would be proud. Clifford the Big Red Dog hits theaters and is streaming on Paramount+ November 10, 2021.
Clifford the Big Red Dog 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!
I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG PARENTS GUIDE AND MOVIE REVIEW HELPFUL FOR YOUR FAMILY. WILL YOU BE WATCHING?!
Looking for more Parent Guides for your family movie nights? Check out these posts HERE!