It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Earlier this year, when the trailer for Walt Becker’s Clifford The Big Red Dog hit the internet, we all had a good laugh. “He’s too small,” we said. “He’s a weird shade of red,” we nitpicked. “No one could possibly afford a New York City apartment big enough for Clifford,” we correctly asserted.
Well, all that chatter about Clifford, bolstered by a healthy-by-pandemic-standards box office and children at home pounding on their playroom tables for more Clifford, has resulted in the announcement that we’re getting what we deserve: more Clifford.
Per Variety, Paramount Pictures has announced a sequel to the “most-watched original film” on Paramount+, Clifford The Big Red Dog. To think, more people watched Clifford than Mark Whalberg’s Infinite. Never underestimate the power of children to find the watch the same thing over and over and over again.
Ok, fun’s over. We’re being a little hard on Clifford. To its credit, critics found Clifford The Big Red Dog mostly harmless, unlike the other film of the same name, the Martin Short horror movie Clifford, and the gigantic red dog who eats a small dog in the trailer. Reviewing the film for The A.V. Club, Jessen Hassenger wrote:
Even if Clifford doesn’t inspire Paddington-level invention, personality, or basic dignity, there are hints of an approach to this material that could be sweeter, less pointlessly quippy, and less interested in hand-waving away conflict under the guise of dog-loving unity. Plenty of Clifford books take place in bland, nondescript locations with paper-thin characterizations. In relocating the story to New York, the movie ultimately only seems eager to join in on gentrification.
As disappointing as it is for Becker to direct something that was merely fine instead of another so-bad-it’s-good classic, like Wild Hogs and Old Dogs, it’s probably for the best. A movie like Wild Hogs shouldn’t be the most-watched film on any streaming service.