Movie Review: ‘Ferdinand’
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning
Plot: Ferdinand is a bull who, in spite of his massive size, is unusually gentle and has a particular interest in flowers. Through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings Ferdinand finds himself en route to the bull-fighting arena.
Review: I have some gripes about the animation industry. I’m also not the intended audience here. So here’s how we’ll break it down. First, we’ve got a review from a seven year old, then my gripes and then my review. Ok? Ok.
“This movie is great! It’s very funny. I liked all the characters. The best part was when he got stung on the butt!”
– J-Funk (7 years old).
Ferdinand is officially endorsed by a member of the intended audience. Now for my gripes.
Why is John Cena in this movie? To be fair he is doing his best and brings his natural charisma to the performance. He’s quite fun. But he’s clearly not an actor or a comedian and the performance lacks energy during some key scenes. Animation studios, especially Blue Sky and Illumination, rely on celebrity stunt casting to sell tickets. There is a whole industry of remarkably talented voice actors relegated to support roles while less qualified but more recognisable celebrities are heading up lead roles. In the Secret Life of Pets they cast Tara Strong as a parakeet who doesn’t speak, just chirps. The actor who voices Harley Quinn, Timmy Turner, Raven, Bubbles, Batgirl and Ben Tennyson was left chirping while Kevin Hart and Louis C.K. took top billing and phoned in their performances. I’ve talked about this before.
In this case we have a wrestler and professional meme not only taking a lead role and very much playing a key role in the marketing of a major release. Now he’s not bad, but this role could’ve been absolutely hilarious with someone like John DiMaggio or Jess Harnell playing Ferdinand. It’s a wasted opportunity because business is put ahead before art. They are much more interested in pleasing the marketing department than making their best possible film. This movie also features Peyton Manning in a main role…he has even less acting experience than John Cena and it shows.
Right. I’m done. Here’s the review.
Ferdinand is a fairly inoffensive and run-of-the-mill family animated film. Ferdinand, as a calf, sees his father selected for the bull-fighting ring and not returning. Although everyone else sees being selected a great honour Ferdinand abhors violence and escapes. After growing up with a family of flower growers Ferdinand’s massive size lands him in trouble and he winds up on the path back to the arena.
While on this journey Ferdinand is ‘coached’ by a demented goat (McKinnon) and has to make friends with a selection of animals defined by a singular trait, the most entertaining being Agnus, the blinded Scottish bull voiced by David Tennant. We run through the expected cow related puns and some fairly entertaining slapstick humour.
This is a harmless, inoffensive family friendly film. The story is full of plot hole. The big threat is the bullfighting arena, but they never show what this is until the end so it’s an invisible threat and key characters disappear for about 80% of the running time. Plus the movie couldn’t decide what their climatic finale would be, so they did two. It is amusing and can pass the time during the holidays if that’s what you’re looking for.
I am glad that it was anti-bullfighting. The opening scene makes it look like being in the arena is what the characters will aspire to, but this gets squashed. It’s a horrible form of entertainment, and only worth noting when the poncy shitsmears that are matadors get their junk gored off by the dangerous animal they’ve been tormenting for fun.
Anyway. If your kids are aren’t old enough to sit through a Star Wars film than this is a reasonable alternative. If you think a group of horses ‘dabbing’ is funny, then you might enjoy it as well.
Rating: SIX out of TEN