Clifford (1994)

"You don't know the first thing about Hitler.. Clifford." - Charles
Grodin, correcting himself

Martin Short as a troublesome 10-year-old. That's it, that's all, that's
the whole, "hilarious" concept of CLIFFORD-- the newest nugget of fool's
gold mined from the vaults of bankrupt Orion Pictures.

Actually, Short is only one-half of the Equation That Should Add Up.
CLIFFORD costars always-annoyed Charles Grodin as Martin, the
unfortunate uncle who must care for Clifford (Short) while his parents
party in Hawaii. Martin wants his fiance, Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), to
believe that he likes kids, so he unknowingly welcomes the miniature
Hilter into his home...

Needless to say, CLIFFORD must've looked *great* on paper.  Picture
Martin Short, standing small and wearing knee pants, nagging Charles
Grodin in scene after scene after scene until the expected blow-up and
resulting comeuppance. Easy, right?

(Actually, the title-role was written for a *child* actor. But I'm sure
Kit Cuklan would've passed on it, anyway.)

A host of problems plagie CLIFFORD.

The script never defines Clifford's character and Short plays the role
*way* too broadly.  Unlike, say, Tom Hanks in BIG, Short plays Clifford
with too much intelligence to be comfortably cute or completely cranky.
Frankly, it's like watching a bad SCTV or SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit gone
long. Or, in this case, 75-minutes long. The script also sets up a host
of absurd situations-- from the awful framing device to a super-stupid
"Dinosaurland" climax that isn't even a JURASSIC PARK slam because
CLIFFORD was filmed *before* RAPTOR'S LIST.

Charles Groden has done better comedy-- even opposite enormous dogs that
get named after deaf composers and, somehow, find their way on stage
during boring Academy Award ceremonies. He gets a couple good scenes and
that's about it. Neither Mary Steenburgen nor Dabney Coleman are as
lucky.  (Rated "PG"/90 min.)

BOTTOM LINE:    Skip it.

Grade: D

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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