FERDINAND is far from Irresist-A-Bull
More than 80 years after the publishing of Munro Leaf’s beloved The Story of Ferdinand, Blue Sky Studios brings the love-a-bull Ferdinand to the big screen just in time for the holidays.
Using Leaf’s 70-ish page story of a big bull who prefers flowers over fighting, Ferdinand retains only this character quirk and an unfortunate bee sting from the book. The film replaces Ferdinand’s mom for his dad, introduces a new cast of characters, and attempts to preach far too many lessons to its young viewers during a painful 108-minute running time.
As a young bull at Casa Del Toro (House of Bulls), Ferdinand is clearly different, choosing to smell the flowers over butting heads with his fellow bulls who have grown up watching their fathers prize-fight at the Plaza Del Toros. After Ferdinand’s dad goes off to fight El Primero, a beloved Spanish matador, and fails to return, Ferdinand escapes the ranch seeking a safer haven. Rescued by humans, Ferdinand grows up to be a gentle giant in a beautiful, flower-filled area of Spain, only to see it stripped away when he is stung by a bee at an inopportune time. The world sees what appears to be an out-of-control bull, and so he is returned to Casa Del Toro and reunited with his old bullies where he must fight (not literally) to stay out of the big ring and escape to return home.
Like other Blue Sky animated films, Ferdinand suffers in comparison to films from rival Pixar. In a case of ironic timing, Ferdinand is going toe-to-toe with Coco, a Pixar film also based in an Hispanic community. But, unlike the majority Hispanic-cast Coco, the only diversity that Ferdinand has is an extremely odd mix of voice talent including WWE superstar John Cena, SNL’s Kate McKinnon, and NFL legend Peyton Manning among others. Whereas Coco works to represent the culture it promotes, Blue Sky has whitewashed this film.
Ferdinand isn’t the worst way to spend two hours. Young children are likely to enjoy the colorful adventure, but parents will find themselves bewildered as the film delivers a new lesson every few minutes while adding only a handful of quality jokes to laugh at along the way.