The song that opens this animated spin-off of the TV series ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ contains the ominous line, ‘Happy ever after needs a scary part first’. But we’re not talking horror here. In an attempt to win his owners a lifetime’s supply of dog food, Clifford leaves home to join an animal act travelling to a talent contest – although given that he’s as big as a house, his success seems fairly certain from the off. Nevertheless, lessons are learned about embracing risk, trusting others and staying loyal to your friends, who in Clifford’s case include regular sidekicks Cleo (a perky poodle) and T-Bone (a dim Scrappy-Doo type). The humour’s broad and the character development stunted, but there’s some imaginative, enjoyable choreography in the circus act, which includes a tightrope-walking cow with vertigo. The logic-defying premise won’t please everyone, but young fans should find the simple animation and well-paced adventure story a welcome postscript to the TV series, which like the voice of Clifford, John Ritter, met an untimely end in 2003.
Friday April 29 2005
Robert C Ramirez