Movie Review: Ferdinand
The animated film Ferdinand was released this weekend, although it feels largely forgotten in the release of the highly anticipated film, The Last Jedi. Regardless, Ferdinand was directed by Carlos Saldanha and based upon the popular children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand. The film follows a bull obviously named Ferdinand who loves flowers and has no interest in fighting like the rest of his kind. This soft-hearted character is voiced by John Cena with the supporting voice cast consisting of Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning, and David Tennant.
The film begins with a young Ferdinand at a bullfighting training area in Spain. While his fellow bulls fight one another and excitedly talk about a future facing the matador, Ferdinand prefers to shelter and nurture a flower he has found. All of the young bulls watch the older bulls, their fathers, fight for the matador, and Ferdinand’s father is chosen. When he does not return after the fight, though, Ferdinand runs away from the training area. He ends up being found by Juan and his daughter, Nina, who own a florist farm. Ferdinand loves this new home, and he shares a special bond with Nina even as he grows strong and large. When events go awry at a flower festival in town, though, Ferdinand is taken away and must find his way back home.
While the story is based upon the children’s book, they had to adapt quite a bit of the story to make it a full feature film. We do not get Ferdinand’s mother in the film like we do in the book, but we still get a Ferdinand who loves smelling flowers and dreams of a life where he can be something other than a fighter. They expand Ferdinand’s adventure from the events in the book, but the longer series of events works well for Ferdinand’s arc. Even with the differences, I thought this movie was a nice rendition for this big-hearted bull. John Cena certainly brought the character of Ferdinand to life, and he completely delivered on this strong, sweet character. The voice cast really did shine overall, and I personally found Kate McKinnon’s role as Lupe, the calming goat, hilarious.
There are moments of this film that are definitely geared solely for children, but even as an adult, I really enjoyed the film. The only characters who truly irritated me were the horses at the training center, but that’s a small complaint in the grand scheme of things. In actuality, the film surprised me more than anything. It expands a little bit about the fate of the bulls who are injured or not strong enough to compete, and it even reveals what happens to the bulls who compete in the arena with the bullfighter. I actually thought at times that those reveals might be too much for really young children, but I found that those more serious tones added some much needed stakes for the story.
Overall, Ferdinand was a really cute animated film. It stayed true to the beloved book character, but it also gave him a journey fit for the big screen. I thought it really hit home on the classic theme of not judging a book by its cover along with some other heartwarming lessons along the way. If you’re looking for a film to hit with the whole family over the holiday season, I would say that this is a good option. Nick Jonas also recorded some new music for the film, and I have to admit that several of the songs are a little too catchy. While Ferdinand may not be the best animated film of the year, it is one of the better animated films we have received this year and worth the watch.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.