Here’s my history with the Ferdinand the Bull stories. I don’t know anything. I think I’m too old to have experienced whatever sort of books or shows existed before this, so I went in completely unaware and immune to nostalgia.
We follow Ferdinand (John Cena), a bull who doesn’t want to fight but rather wants to enjoy the smell of flowers and relax and dance. However, conflict is inevitable in movies so Ferdinand finds himself at a ranch vying for the attention of one of the world’s best matadors.
Other voice talent includes Bobby Cannavale, Jerrod Carmichael, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning (yes really), David Tennant, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, and Gabriel Iglesias.
This movie is intended for kids, moreso than other recent animated outings, and kids should love most of this. It’s bright and vivid and has plenty of wacky falls and high speed chases. Kids will laugh and laugh but then sometimes it goes deeper.
I also want to give this movie kudos for going beyond what I expected. With bullfighting comes several more deep and complex stories that Ferdinand doesn’t shy away from, including the mistreatment (and killing) of bulls in that arena, as well as the nature of turning animals into meat. This movie goes to those dark places, but if you’re bringing a young child, be prepared to debrief what a “chop shop” is and why bulls never come back.
The voice talent in this movie is nice, including a fine performance from John Cena, though it’s nothing compared to his other live action performances that maybe fared a little better.
My two major pros are fine on their own but when they come together, it can be a bit jarring. A hilarious joke followed by a comment about dying and being turned into steak. It’s dark and your kids may not be ready to face the concept of death, so just be prepared.
The movie in its core plot is incredibly predictable and unsurprising, again because it’s meant for kids. If you’re looking for something that is more than just average, keep looking. This movie is as average as you can get, which is fine if you’re just looking for an hour+ of escapism with the kids.
I also dock points for every movie that features a group of animals somehow driving a car. Completely ridiculous and low-hanging fruit. Done to death.
Ferdinand is fine. It’s predictable and average, but it does the job if you want to entertain the kids. Be aware though, that little nuggets are slipped in that younger kids may find traumatizing. I give kudos to the movie for going there, though, as the nature of bullfighting shouldn’t be ignored in a story about bullfighting.