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[REVIEW] ‘Ferdinand’ – A Great Film for Kids and an Enjoyable Time for Animation-loving Adults

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It’s the longest movie made by BlueSky Animation Studio by about five or six minutes and it came from an eight-page children’s book. Did it work? It was a risky move but I’m going to say, for a ‘safe’ children’s/family film, yes.

Ferdinand is a bull born into the world of bullfighting but is anything but a fighter. Even when he was a young calf every other calf was excited to jump into the ring and take on the matador for a chance at eternal glory, but Ferdinand just wanted to sit back and smell the flowers.

He almost gets his wish, as he escapes from that world and grows up with a family in the hills of Spain. All seems perfect until he is mistaken for a ruthless beast, returned to the place of his birth, and hand picked by the top matador to fight in the ring.

Ferdinand is directed by Carlos Saldanha, who directed films like Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) and Rio (2011) and features the voice talents of the equally intimidating but funny professional wrestler (actor, rapper, and reality television show host) John Cena. In addition, the film features Kate McKinnon, who plays a very funny “calming goat.” 

Understandably, there is a lot of physical humor. Ferdinand is the largest bull for miles but has decided not to conform to social norms. Even when his peers, Valiente (Bobby Cannavale), Guapo (Peyton Manning), and Bones (Anthony Anderson) can’t imagine another way. It’s full of beautiful animation and at its heart is a very sweet story with endearing characters.

The Austrian horses were the highlight of the humor for the kids and adults and the physical humor in general was entertaining. I LOVED the landscapes of Spain and the visual “tour”of Madrid. It’s predictable but I was impressed with how consistent the pacing was. I also can’t forget the BEAUTIFUL score by John Powell that is very much worth a listen.

Where the film lacks is that it is simple to a fault. Because it takes place in a Spanish-speaking country, and is animated, people may have a hard time not comparing it to Pixar’s Coco. If you go in expecting a story that will shake your world, then you will be disappointed. I do wish that, in the same way that Coco celebrated the Mexican culture, this film could have celebrated the culture of Spain more organically by having more Spanish or hiring Spanish actors… though, that list is very short. (I’m sure Antonio Banderas was available.)

Some messages that I picked up on were, of course, those of anti fighting and turning the other cheek but, having lived in Spain and knowing the continual controversy over bull fights, it seemed like a not-so-subtle commercial against them. All in all, I say this is a great film for kids and an enjoyable time for animation-loving adults.

★★★

In theaters now.

Chime in! Have you seen Ferdinand?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Chelsea Robson

Chelsea Robson, Co-host of the Animation Addicts Podcast, studied studio engineering and is a singer/songwriter and is know as "The World Traveler of the Podcast." She speaks fluent Portuguese, loves being outdoors, hiking small mountains, riding horses, and talking about human nature.