Ferdinand Review

Ferdinand Poster #2

Believe it or not, there is such a rich history of the book that Ferdinand is based on. First off, “The Story of Ferdinand” originated back in the 1930s. However, because of its anti-war stance, it was banned in Spain by the notorious General Francisco Franco. Not to mention, the evil dolt that is Adolf Hitler gave the order to burn all copies of the book. For as rich as the history is, the book never was given the theatrical treatment until now. But does Ferdinand live up to the rich history of the book itself?

The film may not be the best adaptation of the book, but it does keep the book’s core theme. It’s a film that’s as kind and heartwarming as the bull himself.

Ferdinand follows the titular character who wants nothing to do with bullfighting. After a harrowing escape as a calf, he meets a family that cares for and loves him. But when he’s mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is sent back to the place he never thought he’d see again. Now, he must rally his misfit team and escape the bullfighting farm in order to return to his family.

Ferdinand - John Cena

Although the film is an adaptation, the filmmakers took quite a few liberties with it. Yet the soul of the book remains the same. Underneath the silliness is a film that is severely anti-bullfighting. Sure, the book’s anti-bullfighting tone is a far cry from the anti-war tone but it’s still an important issue to cover. The film doesn’t hide its stance on the violent sport either. In addition, the film also features another important message about being true to yourself even though society says otherwise. It’s a sincere message that gives Ferdinand much of its heart and warmth. In turn, audiences will respond to it in a similar fashion.

Unfortunately, the film diverges from its Pixar-style storyline quite often. Instead of focusing on its main theme, it adds silly scenes that’ll detract adults from the film. These scenes will surely entertain the kids, but Pixar and Disney have shown us that you don’t have to have these kinds of silly scenes in order to entertain the kids. Not to mention, there’s a ton of new characters that’ll appease your little ones. However, some of the characters are simply annoying. Notably, Lupe the Calming Goat. The character was supposed to be the Donkey to Ferdinand’s Shrek. Sadly, the character is more of a nuisance than an actual lovable sidekick.

On the other hand, Ferdinand’s fellow fighting bulls were nice additions to the film. Similar to the titular bull, they’re just as lovable—including his rival, Valiente. The addition of these bulls adds some dramatic elements that were missing from Leaf’s original book. In other words, you don’t know which bull will be the next to die inside the bullfighting ring. It’s a trope we’ve seen many times before but it’s still an effective tactic.

As for the animation, it’s top-notch. It may be cartoonish but it fits the style of the film perfectly. Even though the film doesn’t follow the vibrancy and colorfulness of Carlos Saldanha’s Rio films, it’s still rich with colors and is a more subdued film.


Ferdinand’s biggest surprise comes from its star, John Cena. Although you still think John Cena whenever Ferdinand talks, he invokes quite a bit of emotion to the role. The reason audiences will attach themselves to our hero is that of Cena’s warmth and kindness. It’s quite a pleasant surprise.

In contrast, the filmmakers underuse the comedic talent of Kate McKinnon. Typically, McKinnon is hilarious in everything she does but she is quite annoying as Lupe. As for the rest of the supporting cast, they are all solid in their own right. Yes, that even includes the other “GOAT”, Peyton Manning. They all add to the heart of the film in their own unique way.

Overall, Ferdinand is a cute children’s film with some deep messages. While it tries to mimic Pixar’s style of emotional storytelling, the silliness reverts it back to being a common children’s film. At the same time, there’s an inherent warmth and compassion to the film that’ll melt the iciest of hearts. If you’re looking for a heartwarming film to watch with your kids this holiday season, look no further than Ferdinand.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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