The 1990s Slapstick Comedy We Guarantee You Forgot Existed, Stream Right Now

By Brian Myers | Published


I don’t think I could count how many films starring former Saturday Night Live players that I’ve viewed since the early 1980s. From earlier stars Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase to more modern-era players like Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, I don’t recall a time where an SNL actor didn’t have a film currently playing on a theater screen. But for every entry we remember like Beverly Hills Cop and Step Brothers there’s a number of greats like the Martin Short movie Clifford that get quickly (and unfairly) forgotten.

Clifford Is A Pain

If you were to read the storyline for Clifford, it admittedly doesn’t stand out for its dynamic plot or character arcs. The film is about a spoiled 10-year-old boy that derails his parents’ trip to Hawaii in hopes of them taking him to a dinosaur-themed amusement park. When his antics aboard the Hawaii-bound jet force it to land in Los Angeles, little Clifford’s parents send him to stay temporarily with his uncle Martin.

Uncle Martin Vs. Martin Short


Dear old Uncle Martin (Charles Grodin) is trying to woo his fiancé Sarah (Mary Steenburgen) and believes that taking his nephew in will show her that he’s suitable material to be the future father of her children. But when Martin puts off taking Clifford to Dinosaur World, his nephew works to make his life a living Hell. The relentless pranks Clifford pulls range from annoying (replacing Martin’s chap stick with red lipstick) to utterly psychotic (blowing up a full-scale model of the city that Martin created for work).

What Makes Clifford Great


For me, what makes Clifford such a great film to rewatch is two-fold. The way Charles Grodin’s Martin and Richard Kind’s Julian (Clifford’s father) are able to barely contain bottled anger that’s brought on by Clifford is hilarious to watch. And when these characters do finally explode with rage, it only adds to the movie’s comical elements.

But the real reason Clifford is so great is the genius behind casting Martin Short to play the 10-year-old brat. The veteran comic actor’s slight build combines with clever staging techniques to give an almost believable illusion that you’re watching a child terrorize his family. Short’s comedic timing, facial expressions, and masterful delivery went further in making Clifford one of the 90s comedies that made me laugh the hardest.

Grodin And Short Are A Wonderful Pair

Clifford isn’t high art, it’s not a sophisticated comedy entry, and it certainly doesn’t have any depth of character. But the movie is clean fun, the creative casting of Martin Short letting it succeed in being a film that is worthy of remembering and rewatching. The one-liners and quotable material are seemingly endless, rivaling most any other comedy movie from the decade.

Short and Grodin play off one another like old hands at being cast as each other’s nemesis, and Steenburgen brings her usual solid performance to the screen that allows her character to show believable characteristics and emotions that range from endearing to irate. It’s certainly worth giving Clifford a go.

Stream It Now


Clifford is currently streaming on Roku, Hoopla, Tubi, and Pluto. The film can also be rented from AppleTV and Amazon.