Ferdinand

Ferdinand

2017, PG, 106 min. Directed by Carlos Saldanha. Voices by John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale, Lily Day, Juanes, Raúl Esparza.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 15, 2017

Adapted from the mid-Thirties children’s book, Blue Sky Studios takes the central plot of author Munro Leaf’s 32-page kid-lit classic and expands it into a brightly hued and sporadically amusing mediocrity. Blue Sky’s track record thus far has been above average – the Ice Age series, Rio – and while Ferdinand isn’t a train wreck by any means, it does come off as an also-ran in a year now dominated by the truly marvelous Coco. Screenwriters Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, and Brad Copeland over-stuff the otherwise heartfelt production with far too many subplots, tired barnyard shenanigans, and gags that simply don’t generate the yuks, much less the occasional chuckle.

Cena voices the titular young bull who makes a break for freedom and flowers after learning that his father has exited the world via the matadore’s banderillas in Madrid’s bullfighting stadium. Wise move, that, considering the ritualized slaughter of countless bulls for popular entertainment over the centuries. Ferdinand doesn’t cover the gruesome outcome of such man-on-beast battles – this is a kids’ film, after all – but director Saldanha nevertheless places the plight of Ferdinand over the unctuous matador and the bloodthirsty crowds. If Morrissey had kids, he’d likely make them watch Ferdinand for the subtext alone.

Speaking of, Ferdinand the conscientious objector only wants to wallow in the vivid and fragrant flowers that blossom all over the flower-seller’s farm where he ends up. Pint-sized Nina (Day) adopts the runaway bull until, of course, Ferdinand follows her and her father into town and literally ends up as the proverbial bull in a china shop. (That’s one of the film’s best and most imaginative sequences, actually.) Ultimately, Ferdinand is captured and forced into the ring against his will: hoary slapstick chaos and life lessons ensue. Ferdinand doesn’t really do justice to its evergreen and far less cluttered source material, but if the matinee of Coco’s sold out, you could do worse than this presumably PETA-approved animation.

Showtimes

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Wed., June 20

9:30am

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Carlos Saldanha Films
Rio, I Love You
All set in Rio de Janeiro, this is a collection of short films

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 6, 2016

Rio 2
The animated blue macaw family takes a trip back to the Amazon.

Louis Black, April 18, 2014

More by Marc Savlov
Gary Kent Is One of the Last of the Dangerous Men
Gary Kent Is One of the Last of the Dangerous Men
New documentary Love and Other Stunts catches the daredevil legend in action

June 1, 2018

How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Neil Gaiman's short story gets an inessential musical makeover.

June 1, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2018

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle