Australian Council on Children and the Media

Clifford’s Really Big Movie

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Short takes

Parental guidance for pre-schoolers (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Clifford’s Really Big Movie
  • a review of Clifford’s Really Big Movie completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 October 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Parental guidance may be needed for some children in this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Clifford’s Really Big Movie
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 74 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Clifford, an enormous, red dog lives on Birdwell Island with his loving owners in a community that absolutely adores him. Life is perfect until he overhears a neighbour asking his family how they manage to afford him, saying that Clifford must be eating them out of house and home.

At this stage Clifford, along with his two dog pals Cleo and T-Bone, decides to join a travelling carnival act in order to win a lifetime supply of Tummy Yummies (a competition sponsored by Wolfbottom) so as to no longer place a financial burden on the family that loves him.

However, the carnival act they plan to join isn’t as perfect as it first appears. The act, Larry’s Amazing Animals, consists of Dirk, a dare-devil dachshund, Rodrigo, a weight-lifting Chihuahua, Shackelford, a high flying ferret and Dorothy, a tight-rope walking cow with a fear of heights. After years of failed performances, the animals have only three weeks to pull their act together in order to stay together, else they risk losing not only their home with the travelling carnival, but also each other.

Once a part of the animal show Clifford works his magic, saving acts that go wrong, curing Dorothy of her fear of heights and guaranteeing Larry’s Animal Show a chance to win the Tummy Yummy competition. As the animals prepare for this chance of a lifetime they are presented with obstacles that test their friendship, and teach them a lot about life.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains a few instances of violence, most of which is accidental.

  • While Shackelford is juggling during a high-wire performance, he accidentally drops the bowling pins on Larry’s head. At the same time, Dorothy is trying to hold onto the high wire, but she eventually falls a couple of feet and lands on Larry, followed by Shackleford who lands on Larry’s head.
  • Many of the animals bump into each other during a performance, including Shackleford who has a sore bottom after crashing into the trapeze tower.
  • While Clifford is trying to escape from Wolfbottom’s estate, he accidentally bumps into, and breaks a huge Ferris Wheel, which then crashes into a gate.
  • Guards chasing Clifford crash into each other, slap-stick style.
  • As a final attempt at capturing Clifford, a large number of guards stand ready with lassos, but Dorothy swings down on a wire and bowls them all away.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There are two scenes in this film that could potentially concern very young viewers.

  • On their way to the Tummy Yummy competition, Larry’s truck breaks down and then starts reversing down a steep canyon road while the frightened animals are thrashed around inside. Larry himself chases after them but it looks like nothing can stop the trailer and the animals from plunging over the side of a steep, dark cliff. At the last second Clifford arrives to save the day.
  • While Clifford is trying to escape from Wolfbottom’s estate, T-Bone trips an alarm. An army of guards come rushing from every direction trying to recapture Clifford using nets, ropes and lassos, while Clifford and his friends try desperately to escape.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may be frightened or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

It is unlikely that children in this age group will be scared or disturbed by any material in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children in this age group will be scared or disturbed by any material in this film.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

To cheer up Rodrigo, Shackelford offers him a Mexican drink with a little umbrella (most likely tequila, although it is not specifically stated whether or not it is alcoholic.

Coarse language

There is no coarse language in this movie. The only questionable language used “That’s the biggest dang dog I’ve ever seen.”

In a nutshell

The movie’s main message is that with a good, positive attitude, a little luck and a lot of determination you can make your dreams come true.

Some values that parents may wish to encourage in their children are:

  • friendship
  • determination
  • the importance of being honest

The following content could be used by parents to discuss with their children what their own family’s values are, and what the real life consequences can be of some actions and attitudes:

  • the importance of communication in preventing misunderstandings
  • jealousy
  • the use of animals in the entertainment industry

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