In Theatres: 
Dec 15, 2017
Running Time: 
107 minutes

Adapted from the 1936 children’s book about a bull who refuses to fight, Ferdinand is an animated film that feels trapped in the past, both in storytelling and animation. It’s the definition of “kid-friendly” as it’s entertaining enough to keep the attention of anyone under the age of 8 but can be more of a chore to watch the older the audience gets. For adults, I would be prepared to be more annoyed by its characters than entertained.


Ferdinand (John Cena) is a bull who unlike his bovine brethren is opposed to violence of any kind and would rather spend his days smelling flowers or sit under his cork tree rather than butt heads in a showing of testosterone. As a young bull, he manages to escape from Casa del Toro, a bullfighting training facility, and is rescued by the sweet Nina (Lily Day) and grows up on her family’s farm free to do what he wants rather than train to fight in the arena. Ferdinand still grows big and strong, despite his opposition to fighting, but with the exception of Nina and her father, all people see is a big scary bull. So when a fully grown Ferdinand visits the local town’s flower festival just wanting to smell them all, he actually causes a full blown panic and is taken away to Casa del Toro, the very same place he escaped from when he was younger. Thanks to his massive size and strength, everyone, including the other bulls, sees him as the next great contender in the bullfighting arena. Only Ferdinand doesn’t want to fight; he just wants to smell the flowers.


At the heart of Ferdinand is a good message about how people (and animals) should just be themselves regardless of what others think they should be based on their looks or what’s in their genes. It also carries the theme that violence isn’t necessary, even in something like bullfighting. Unfortunately, the message is buried in outrageously over-the-top and annoying characters and lackluster animation. With the exception of Ferdinand, practically every character in the film acts like they’re jacked up on caffeine. There’s no better example of this than Lupe, an old goat in charge of Ferdinand’s training who is voiced by Kate McKinnon. As much as I loved McKinnon as a comedian and actress, Lupe is loud and grating and memorable for all the wrong reasons. Everyone else, on the other hand, is completely forgettable.


Forgettable is how I would describe Ferdinand as a whole. It’s just entertaining enough to make younger kids laugh, although its 107 minute running time is pushing even their attention span to the limits. For older audiences, there’s little to grasp. You’re better off reading the book or watching the Disney animated short. They’re far more entertaining and time better spent.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook