Arts & Entertainment

Whitehall: ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ was inspired by classic family films

By David Villafranca

Los Angeles, Nov 9 (EFE).- The innocent adventures of “Clifford the Big Red Dog” will be introduced to a new generation of kids in a new movie starring Jack Whitehall, who in remarks to Efe said that comedy based on the likenamed book series has the winsome charm of classic family films.

“The reality is that the movie does have an old-fashioned quality, and that was something that we were hoping that it would have because the inspirations for us were films from the ’80s and ’90s and the Amblin (Entertainment) films,” the 33-year-old English actor said in a video interview. “‘E.T. (the Extra-Terrestrial)’ (1982) was a reference point that we kept talking about.”

“It’s not a film that has any cynicism. It has this kindness running through it. Hopefully it’s one of those movies that kids will love and then watch over and over,” he added.

Whitehall follows the gigantic, red and playful Clifford around New York City in that live action/animated picture that will be released theatrically – as well as digitally on Paramount+ – on Wednesday in the United States.

Based on the children’s book series created by Norman Bridwell and published by Scholastic, the movie tells the story of Emily (Darby Camp), a middle-schooler in New York City who adopts a red puppy on the advice of a mysterious and magical elderly animal rescuer (John Cleese).

But when she wakes up the next day she finds that Clifford has grown into a massive – albeit very loving – canine that she and her uncle Casey (Whitehall) must protect from a greedy genetics company eager to supersize animals.

“At the beginning she (Emily) is more the adult and he’s more the child, and that was a fun dynamic to play,” Whitehall said.

An actor, writer, comedian and television presenter, Whitehall plays the role of a man who is unemployed and floating through life aimlessly, with no clear plans for his career or his future.

“But I love that he goes on a journey, and by the end of the film he has grown up a little bit and matured somewhat and has risen to the plate and found that actually he quite enjoys having some responsibility,” Whitehall said.

Like most children’s movies, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” offers its young viewers important life lessons, in this case about the virtues of diversity, tolerance and acceptance.

But Whitehall said the message is delivered subtly and is incorporated into a story filled with humor and plenty of heart.

The film also provided the actor the added bonus of working alongside John Cleese, the iconic co-founder of the British surreal comedy troupe Monty Python.

“He’s a comic genius and he’s the reason I got into what I do,” the actor said.

“The reason that I wanted to become a comedian was watching him. ‘Fawlty Towers’ and Monty Python were what I grew up watching … that’s when I fell in love with comedy and aspired to be like him,” Whitehall said. “And so getting the opportunity to work with him was really special. And obviously there’s a degree of trepidation when you’re meeting one of your heroes … but he lived up to my expectations. He’s avuncular, he’s friendly, he’s a very generous performer. He’s got this big booming laugh.”

Whitehall, who has made a name for himself in Hollywood after getting his start on British television (the 2012-2014 series “Bad Education”), appeared this year in the successful Disney fantasy adventure film “Jungle Cruise” and also has leading roles in two upcoming comedies: “Silent Retreat” and “Robots.” EFE


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