Clifford the Big Red Dog is coming to a theater near you on September 17, and the best part is that the film packs diversity and heritage at its finest. The movie tells the story of an 8-year-old girl named Emily (Darby Camp) who loves her tiny puppy so much that it makes him grow into a 25-foot-tall dog.
Although the plot sounds simplistic, the reality is that the project will appeal to viewers of all ages and different cultures, including the Latinx community. As reported by NBC News, thanks to comedians Paul Rodriguez and Horatio Sanz, viewers will be able to hear “¡Oye!” (“Hey!”) or “¡Vaya!” (“Wow!”) throughout the movie.
The actors play brothers and owners of a bodega located in Harlem, New York City. “This is the story of a little neighborhood,” Rodriguez said to the publication. “We have Latino bodega owners, African American lawyers, an Indian magician, and an elderly Jewish woman. This movie is looking at a global audience.”
Although Rodriguez was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and grew up in Compton, California, he feels he distance himself from his Latino roots as his career in comedy advanced. While filming Clifford the Big Red Dog, the actor realized this project could make viewers proud of their heritage.
“I don’t think I did a very good job with my son. He’s pretty well known, a skateboarder of some fame. And he speaks chopped-up Spanish,” he said. “I took [Spanish language] classes and try to speak without an [American] accent. But it didn’t come naturally to me. And I didn’t take that care with my son. He basically grew up without me speaking Spanish to him.”
Similar to Paul Rodriguez, Horatio Sanz struggled to fit in. “I was born in Santiago [Chile] but grew up in Chicago with Puerto Rican and Mexican kids. There weren’t that many Chilean families in Chicago, so I morphed in between,” he said.
“Growing up in Chicago, I really liked a Polish guy at the corner store named Don. Then, when I moved a few blocks away, there was Tony’s, a Puerto Rican place. And there was another guy who sold scraped ice — piragua [a Puerto Rican ice cone dessert covered in fruit syrup]. I really liked those guys. They were a fixture in the neighborhood,” he said, referring to how the movie translates to his upbringing.
According to Rodriguez and Sanz, their accents in the movie took research and were practiced and spoken with respect. “We went to a bodega and walked around the neighborhood and listened to the people on the street,” Rodriguez said. “An accent coach pointed out different pronunciations. We don’t want to overdo it because we don’t want people to think that we are turning it into something funny. We just want to speak like normal people on the street.”
Rodriguez told the publication his accent represents Puerto Ricans in New York, while Sanz also uses Cuban and Dominican accents.