Paramount's live-action "Clifford the Big Red Dog" made his debut Wednesday, and tongues and tails went a-wagging as soon as the crimson canine appeared in frame.
Beware of many dog puns below.
The first look at the film adaptation of the beloved book character was immediately dogged by online criticism reminiscent of the hacky special-effects jobs that spooked viewers with early versions of Will Smith's blue genie in Disney's live-action "Aladdin" and Paramount's creepy-toothed "Sonic the Hedgehog" — both of which were updated by the time the films were released.
Paramount Pictures, of course, is the same studio bringing Scholastic's beloved "Clifford" to life in November of next year. The preview of Walt Becker's film, which featured a lineup of sweet pups, culminated in a peek at a panting red Labrador, who's now being barked at for his inconsistent terms of scale and whose dye job has been compared to mediocre red-velvet cake and watered-down Kool-Aid.
Like he can help it?
A mixed breed of reactions took off Wednesday, with many sharing excitement for the upcoming film, which stars Darby Camp as Clifford's middle-school-age dog mom Emily Elizabeth and John Cleese as the magical animal rescuer who gifts her the little red puppy.
But the funniest ones chewed out Paramount for unleashing this version of the literary icon.
"first impressions are important," wrote a Twitter user in the film account's replies, dropping in images of Smith's Genie and Taylor Swift's Bombalurina in "Cats," last year's widely panned special-effects disaster.
"Before you get too far down the rabbit hole here, I’m going to let you know that this is not this direction of Clifford we were looking for. It is in the uncanny valley of creepy. He is less Crayola red and more of a rolled and blood red," replied another Twitter user.
"Tell your people to call our people," tweeted the American Kennel Club.
"i have about 17 questions fam," wrote the BarkBox account.
"You may need to change that hue of red, y’all made my boy look dingy," wrote another user.
"You know how you fixed sonic paramount you might want to do the same here," added another.
"God I hope this looks better in production It looks like a spray painted red dog but they used cgi to make it more realistic and it didn't work," said another tweet.
Nevertheless, many were not as cagey about the pup.
"He literally looks like a big red dog. Isn't that the point?" observed one fan.
"I don't hate it but the fur looks too unnatural," tweeted another. "I know a bright red dog isn't really 'natural' but it just looks off. The coloring doesn't look good."
"people are really out here complaining about a big red dog looks like a big red dog," replied another.
Bottom line: The new live-action Clifford is very much a big red dog, whether you like it or not, and Paramount has another year to do whatever it wants.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.