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Clifford's Really Big Movie Reviews

Released hot on the heels of Disney's talking-pup picture TEACHER'S PET, this feature-film version of a popular children's cartoon revolves around everyone's favorite big red dog. Clifford (voice of John Ritter) lives the good life on idyllic Birdwell Island, adored by his beloved owner, Emily Elizabeth (Grey Delisle), and his best canine pals Cleo (Cree Summer) and T-Bone (Kel Mitchell). The good-hearted giant sees no reason to ever leave home until a traveling carnival passes through town. In addition to the usual rides and games, the carnival features an animal act made up starring death-defying ferret Shackleford (Wayne Brady), weight-lifting chihuahua Roderigo (Wilmer Valderrama), tightrope-walking cow Dorothy (Jenna Elfman) and skateboarding dachshund Dirk (Jess Harnell). Though all of the performers are giving 110 percent, the act still needs a lot of work, especially since their kindly trainer, Larry (Judge Reinhold), hopes to enter and win an animal talent show sponsored by well-known dog-food company Tummy Yummies. The grand prize? A lifetime supply of Tummy Yummies, Clifford's favorite dish. Shackleford knows a big red dog would be a great addition to the act, but Clifford refuses to leave Emily Elizabeth. The next morning, however, he overhears a conversation that mistakenly leads him to believe he's a burden, so with T-Bone and Cleo in tow, Clifford joins the troupe and quickly becomes star of the show, much to the consternation of former main attraction Shackleford. Anyone over the age of 6 will find this 73-minute film slow going, but its target audience will probably enjoy the extra-large serving of Clifford: It's the kind of movie for which the term "video baby-sitter" was coined. Unlike such family fare as FINDING NEMO or PETER PAN (both 2003), there's nothing here for adults and older kids to enjoy, and the bargain-basement animation, cloying screenplay and poor vocal performances — with the exception of the late Ritter, who makes a fine Clifford — don't help matters.