Colorful `Clifford' is perfect movie for tykes

April 28, 2004|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Clifford's Really Big Movie brings the Big Red Dog, beloved by children from Norman Bridwell's books and the TV series, to the screen with style and charm, carefully tailored to preschool-to-first-grade sensibilities. As a work of animation, the film has simple, straightforward graphics and a rich palette of colors.

As his fans know, the gigantic Clifford (voiced by the late John Ritter), who has the look of a towering Great Dane, is the pet of little blond Emily Elizabeth (Grey DeLisle) and pals around with Cleo (Cree Summer), a pink poodle, and T-Bone (Kel Mitchell), an amiable bulldog. One day the three canines are thrilled by an animal act at a carnival.

But the act is in trouble, and its leader Larry (Judge Reinhold) is pinning all his hopes on his troupe somehow winning Tummy Yummies Pet Foods' annual animal talent contest. When Clifford and his friends get an invitation to join the act, they accept. If Clifford wins he will receive a lifetime supply of Tummy Yummies, which would cut down on the expense of Emily Elizabeth's family in caring for him. Clifford's adventures are ready to begin in earnest, with a couple of life lessons along the way.

The cast, which includes John Goodman as the not-so-nice owner of Tummy Yummies, is crisp, its voices well-matched to the characters they portray. There are a couple of pleasant songs in the course of the film, and Clifford's Really Big Movie is not that hard for adults to sit through.

Clifford's Really Big Movie

Starring voices of John Ritter, Cree Summer, Kel Mitchell, Judge Reinhold and Wayne Brady

Directed by Robert Ramirez@SUBHEDRated G

Released by Warner Bros.

Time 73 minutes

Sun Score ***

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