Ferdinand (U)



Comedy (2017)
106mins US

Starring: John Cena, Bobby Cannavale, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, David Tennant
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Writer(s): Robert L Baird, Brad Copeland, Tim Federle
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Ferdinand the kind-hearted bull leads a peaceful and blissful existence as the oversized pet of a girl called Nina and her family. During a visit to the local market, Ferdinand accidentally sits on a bee, which stings him, causing the bull to rear up. Locals run in terror and authorities capture Ferdinand, believing him to be a dangerous beast, and send him across the country to be fodder for bull-fighting matadors including the legendary El Primero.

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LondonNet Film Review
Ferdinand (U)

Bad things happen to inherently good computer-animated characters. "It's a dog-eat-dog, bull-fight-bull, everybody-hate-goat world," laments one of the quirky, four-legged protagonists in director Carlos Saldanha's joyful coming-of-age story. Based on the children's book The Story Of Ferdinand penned by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, this entertaining if undemanding journey of self-discovery centres on a Spanish fighting bull, who prefers to smell the roses rather than stomp on them. He refutes the laws of nature, which say he is destined to lock horns with a matador in the ring, and wants to be judged by the generosity in his heart not the potentially lethal power of his hooves...

Ferdinand. Copyright: 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Caption: Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) and Lupe (Kate MacKinnon) in the computer-animated adventure Ferdinand, directed by Carlos Saldanha. Photo: Blue Sky Studios. All Rights Reserved. Alas, creatures great and small are reluctant to see past his muscular physique. "Where do you think the word 'bully' comes from?" chirps one terrified hedgehog. Working from a linear script that repeatedly preaches open-mindedness and acceptance over prejudice and preconception, Ferdinand spins an engaging yarn that will happily stampede the affections of younger audiences. Teenagers and parents may prove harder to wrangle in the absence of sophisticated humour and heart-tugging emotion to elevate the film into the bull pen of modern classics.

Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) is raised at the Casa Del Toro alongside his hulking father Raf (Jeremy Sisto), who is selected to fight in the ring. "I have to go, it's what every bull dreams of," beams the chest-puffing patriarch. "Is it OK if it's not my dream?" nervously responds nature-loving Ferdinand. When Raf fails to return, grief-stricken Ferdinand escapes his stable and runs away. He is eventually adopted as an oversized pet by a girl called Nina (Katie Silverman) and her family. During a visit to the local market, Ferdinand accidentally sits on a bee. A sharp sting causes him to rear up and locals flee in terror.

Police deem Ferdinand a public menace and, in a cruel twist of fate, he is returned to the Casa Del Toro, where he reunited with fellow bulls Valiente (Bobby Cannavale), Guapo (Peyton Manning) and Bones (Anthony Anderson), and a new addition, Angus (David Tennant). An old goat called Lupe (Kate MacKinnon) is enlisted as Ferdinand's trainer so he is fit to face legendary matador El Primero (Miguel Angel Silvestre). "I've been waiting for this moment my whole flea-bitten, tin-chewing life," bleats Lupe.

Ferdinand unfolds at a trot rather than a gallop, complemented by colourful visuals and lively vocal performances. MacKinnon sinks her teeth into the film's broadly comic role, chewing on amusing one-liners while Cena plays his misunderstood central character for pathos. Action set pieces are orchestrated with assurance and minimum on-screen violence. Animals may be blessed with sharp horns, capable of goring a man to death, but they are always aimed an inanimate objects.

- Sam Cannon

Ferdinand. Copyright: 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Caption: Lupe (voiced by Kate MacKinnon), Ferdinand (John Cena), Dos (Daveed Diggs), Cuatro (Gabriel Iglesias) and Una (Gina Rodriguez) in the computer-animated adventure Ferdinand, directed by Carlos Saldanha. Photo: Blue Sky Studios. All Rights Reserved.


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