A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Brief looks at life in a carnival and the differences between rural island life and city life. Talk of some of the responsibilities required in taking care of a dog.
Misunderstandings can happen and sometimes cause problems. It's better to talk things over than to jump to conclusions. Lying, even about little things, is never a good idea.
Positive Role Models
Clifford and his friends always have good intentions but make mistakes (even lie when they pretend to be strays) as they set out to win a contest and help Clifford's family. Everyone learns a valuable lesson. Shackelford is very selfish through much of the movie but learns to appreciate teamwork, grows to value his old and new friends. Most grown-ups and parental figures are portrayed positively. Ethnic diversity throughout.
Violence & Scariness
Some cartoon action, pratfalls, and close calls: A cow loses her balance on a tightrope, a smoking runaway car careens down a hillside, Clifford is captured and taken away, guards with nets and lasers chase the heroes through an amusement park. Several falls and bonks -- no one is injured. Some sadness for younger or more sensitive viewers when Clifford decides to leave home.
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Joke in which a man says that he's going to "see a man about a dog" that's likely to go over the heads of young kids.
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Products & Purchases
Clifford the Big Red Dog is a popular toy and programming franchise.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Clifford's Really Big Movie is a 2004 animated movie in which Clifford leaves home to try to win a talent contest where the first prize is a lifetime supply of dog food. For younger and more sensitive viewers, scenes in which Clifford leaves home, Emily Elizabeth is shown missing Clifford, and Clifford is captured and taken away are likely to be sad, even as Clifford leaves for good reasons and has every intention of coming back to Birdwell Island. There's some peril, including a scene in which characters are in a broken-down camper that's rolling backward down a steep and narrow mountain road. Some animated pratfall violence includes a cow losing her balance on a tightrope, for instance. One joke -- in which an adult says he's going to see "a man about a dog" -- is likely to go over younger kids' heads. Overall, Clifford always cares about and helps his friends and family. One of the characters, Shackelford, acts selfish, but he learns his lesson and grows to appreciate his old and new friends, as well as the value of teamwork. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie will entertain preschoolers, but it's not a perfect viewing choice. The limited animation style looks static on the big screen, and the movie is too long for its intended age group, even at just 75 minutes. The story itself is questionable, with Clifford and his friends leaving home without thinking about how upsetting that will be for their families. The song lyrics justifying it are downright unsettling at times; it cannot be wise to sing to kids about how "You've got to be lost if you want to be found. ... It only gets better after it gets worst / happy-ever-after needs the scary part first." It's fine to let kids know that problems can be solved, but this suggests that they cannot be happy unless they make sure something bad happens first.
Still, Clifford is not just a Big Red Dog; he's a big red phenomenon, hero of a series of books by Norman Bridwell, an animated PBS series, a live road show, and now this film. Clifford is a really, really big red dog, which is part of his appeal to preschoolers, who live among giants and are thus drawn to huge, powerful, but kind creatures who love kids (like Barney). Preschoolers also like the way that Clifford explores the world around him, learning gentle lessons about getting along with others and solving problems like finding lost toys and not being afraid of a storm.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.