DIRECTOR: Carlos Saldanha VOICE CAST: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning, Gina Rodriguez, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, David Tennant SCREENPLAY: Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copelandy STORY: Ron Burch, David Kidd, Don Rhymer BASED ON: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson PRODUCERS: John Davis, Lisa Marie Stetler, Lori Forte, Bruce Andersonn GENRE: Animation, Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy, Family MUSIC BY: John Powell EDITED BY: Harry Hitner CINEMATOGRAPHY: Renato Falcão PRODUCTION COMPANY: Blue Sky Studios, 20th Century Fox Animation, Davis Entertainment DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. F.E. (Philippines) COUNTRY: United States LANGUAGE: English RUNNING TIME: 1 hour 51 minutes
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 4
CINEMA rating: V13 (Ages 13 down with parental guidance)
MTRCB rating: GP
Ferdinand the calf is not aware that bulls are sent to the ring to fight for their lives until he loses his father, a champion bull, who never returns from a bullfight. At the breeding stable Ferdinand (who loves to sniff flowers) is bullied by other calves but he refuses to be intimidated; he is provoked but he’d rather sit it out. He is rudely told, “Fight! If you don’t fight, you’re meat!” Seeing this truth he soon escapes and lands providentially in a flower farm where a little girl Nina (Lily Day) and her single father adopt him as a pet. In this loving environment Ferdinand (John Cena) grows into a bull of monstrous proportions but is (un)naturally non-violent. When he follows Nina and her father to a local flower festival, mayhem begins.
An adaptation of the 1936 classic by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, “The Story of Ferdinand”, this message-movie is a first rate animation that’s made to appeal to viewers of any age. To make the 36-page book into a full-length feature film, screenwriters Baird, Federle and Copelandy pad it up with the antics of secondary characters like a resourceful hedgehogs who help Ferdinand escape captivity, bitchy Lipizzaner horses with pastel-colored manes, and a slightly unhinged goat (Kate McKinnon) acting as his coach to train him to face the famous matador El Primero (Raul Esparza) in the bullring. Pastoral landscapes are both eye candy and soul soothers, while the scenes in the “chop shop” (a high tech slaughterhouse) might spoil your enjoyment of your next burger meal.
Ferdinand in promotional posters carries the slogan “built to fight, born to love”, which, though probably unintentional, forms the solid foundation for this fable. Children who may be experiencing bullying in school or peer pressure in the community may find especially applause-worthy the bullring scenes showing how Ferdinand sticks to his commitment to non-violence in the face of life-threatening odds. Adults will get Ferdinand’s message about corruption in bullfights and logically conclude that the same thing can happen in boxing, basketball, or other sports event, although the best take-home message here is, between the slaughterhouse and the bullring, there is a way out: the commitment to love. Humans, take note.