Dan's Review: "Ferdinand" drives home a simple messageDec 15, 2017 01h11 ● By Dan Metcalf
Ferdinand - © 2017 20th Century Fox.
Ferdinand (20th Century Fox)
Rated PG for rude humor, action and some thematic elements.
Starring (voices of) John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning, Tim Nordquist, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Flula Borg, Boris Kodjoe, Sally Phillips, Jerrod Carmichael, Karla Martínez, Raúl Esparza, Lily Day, Juanes, Jeremy Sisto.
Written by Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copeland, Ron Burch, David Kidd and Don Rhymer, based on "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha.
Sometimes there are truths that are so obvious they are easily overlooked. For instance, everyone knows it’s best to be yourself, regardless of what outside pressures or expectations dictate. That was the simple message of the 1936 classic children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand,” the tale of a massive bull who would rather smell flowers than fight matadors in the ring. The folks at Blue Sky Animation have adapted the story into a full-length feature resulting this weekend’s release of Ferdinand, which stretches the “be yourself” narrative even further.
John Cena voices the title role of Ferdinand, whose pacifist ways annoy the other bulls on the Spanish ranch. The other bulls come in various shapes and sizes, but all of them dream of bullfighting glory. The ranch bully Valiente (Bobby Cannavale) constantly tries to instigate Ferdinand into fighting, but he resists, opting to smell the flowers instead. Other bulls on the ranch include Guapo (Peyton Manning), Bones (Anthony Anderson), Angus (David Tennant) and Machina (Tim Nordquist). When the young Ferdinand’s father is killed in the ring, he hoofs it (haha) as a runaway and eventually landing at a flower farm where he is adopted by the young Nina (Lily Day). Life on the flower farm is ideal for Ferdinand as he grows into a massive adult bull. Everything is fine until he accidentally lays waste to the local village, which draws the attention of his former owner at the ranch. Ferdinand is brought back to his boyhood home, where his associates are trying to gain the attention of El Primero, Spain’s greatest matador. Ferdinand makes friends with a goat named Lupe (Kate McKinnon) and three hedgehogs named Uno, Dos and Quatro (Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs and Gabriel Iglesias). As Ferdinand plans his escape from the ranch again, he must decide whether the other bulls are worth saving from death in the ring or worse, being slaughtered for meat.
Ferdinand is a sweet children’s movie with a few laughs for adults. There’s nothing especially wrong with the film, but the simplistic and obvious moral of being yourself is not exactly subtle, even for little kids. Speaking of little kids, watching Ferdinand may or may not be a good catalyst for a discussion about where hamburgers come from, or the realities of actual bullfighting (which is more than a little barbaric for those unfamiliar with Spanish culture).
All meaty realities aside, Ferdinand is a decent film with plenty of humor for the kids. It certainly isn't the best animated film of the year, but it's good enough for a little family entertainment.