With bullying in the headlines, it’s good for children to have kind-hearted examples of how folks should be treated.
Enter Ferdinand the bull (voice of John Cena), who has been reminded since he was a calf that “bullying” has the word “bull” in it. But he’s no ordinary animal. He likes to stop and smell the flowers and avoids confrontation at all costs.
This doesn’t ring true for his stable mates at Casa del Toro, especially the mean-spirited Valiente (voice of Bobby Cannavale), who aspires to be the toughest opponent in the ring. All the bulls want to be chosen to fight in Madrid and beat the best matador. However, after a tragic realization, Ferdinand runs away from the farm. He’s raised by a father-daughter florist team. During his youthful years, he learns to love being different. After a series of unfortunate events, he is recaptured and must find a way to return to his adoptive family. He assembles a misfit group of bulls and hedgehogs on his quest to prove you can’t judge a bull by its cover.
Based on the popular 1936 children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand,” by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, the Blue Sky Studios animated film captures the essence of its source material, which is still read in elementary schools today.
There are plenty of fun sight gags (bull in the China shop, anyone?) and humorous bits throughout the film that make it fun for the whole family. But what really stands out are the themes of friendship, problem solving and learning to be true to yourself. Ferdinand does not back down to his bullies and stands firm in his beliefs.
Even today, as stories of suicide and heartache fill the social media feeds, Ferdinand is a reminder that staying to true oneself is the ultimate prize.
☆☆☆ (out of five)
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Anderson
Rated: PG (for rude humor, action and thematic elements)
Running time: 106 min.