Ferdinand Parent Guide
Besides the lackluster quality of screenwriting, the movie is mostly harmless for youngsters
Parent Movie Review
The Story of Ferdinand is a children’s book by American author Munro Leaf. Published in 1936, the tale of gentle Ferdinand, a bull who prefers sniffing flowers to fighting others, was accompanied with detailed black and white illustrations by artist Robert Lawson. It quickly earned a devoted following of kids and grownups alike, including Walt Disney, who produced an animated version in 1938.
If you grew up with this story, you may leave theaters feeling rather uninspired. Unfortunately, the 2017 screen adaptation has more in common with mediocre Saturday morning cartoons than it does with classic children’s literature.
In homage to the source material, the movie begins the same way the book does; with young Ferdinand, (voiced by Colin H. Murphy,) showing an aptitude for horticulture that draws the ridicule of his playmates. These baby bovines are destined for the bull fighting arena in Madrid, and proudly watch their dads compete for the honor of being selected. But when Ferdinand’s father (unsurprisingly) doesn’t return from his own encounter with the matador, Ferdinand goes on the run and is eventually taken in by a kindly flower grower (voiced by of Juanes) and his daughter (voiced by of Julia Scarpa Saldanha and Lily Day).
Jump forward a few years. Everything is muy bueno for Ferdinand, (now an adult and voiced by John Cena,) until a misunderstanding leads to his rampage through the local village, with an inevitable mishap in a china shop. Captured and shipped back to the same farm he grew up on, Ferdinand is faced with the fate of fighting in the ring or ending his days at a local meat processing plant.
Despite the apparent urgency of Ferdinand’s plight, the screenwriters find plenty of time for paltry puns, dance parties and, (dare I say it?) some cheeky remarks about animal and human buttocks. This usual fare of silliness and potty humor quickly becomes tedious, and the sprinkling of jokes for older audience members is hardly compensation for putting up with a near two hour run time.
Fortunately, besides the lackluster quality of the writing, the movie is mostly harmless for youngsters. With the typical messages about friendship, being yourself, and treating others with kindness, it manages to pull off a sweet, if entirely unrealistic, ending. Violence is limited to slapstick situations, mild bullying and roughhousing. Perilous situations are handled carefully, avoiding the blood and gore that usually accompany packing plants and bull fights. Still, the acknowledged death of Ferdinand’s father and the uncomfortable reality of animal mistreatment may be troubling to some. Be prepared for a bit of discussion at the end of the film.
All told, this foray into farmyard antics is routine and forgettable, a disappointing take on a cherished classic story. And that’s a shame. In a world where conflict and misunderstanding often drive decision making, it’s refreshing to see a main character who rejects those philosophies, and a pity that the movie couldn’t do justice to the concept.Directed by Carlos Saldanha. Starring Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, John Cena . Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release December 15, 2017. Updated December 22, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Ferdinand rated PG? Ferdinand is rated PG by the MPAA for rude humor, action and some thematic elements.
Violence: Slapstick antics are depicted throughout, and often cause property damage or misunderstandings. Characters are bullied and fight with one another. Injuries are briefly seen, and deaths are implied. Reckless driving occurs. Animals are mistreated by humans, including in the sport of bull fighting where they are taunted, prodded by spears and threatened with swords. Characters are chased and in peril, they also face the possibility of being slaughtered and used for meat. Horns from bulls are mounted as trophies. Characters steal things and runaway. Animals are shocked by an electric fence.
Sexual Content: Some mild sexual innuendo is included. The script features butt jokes, mild potty humor and comedic vomiting.
Profanity: Infrequent mild profanity occurs, along with frequent name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated December 22, 2017
More parents' guide for Ferdinand after the break...
Ferdinand Parents' Guide
Contrary to the aggressiveness of real bulls, the character of Ferdinand is a pacifist. How does his desire be gentle make him a target of teasing and bullying? Can personality differences cause problems in human relationships too? How does Ferdinand react to those who treat him poorly? While it likely wouldn’t work in nature, how can being nice to others sometimes encourage kindness in return?
The bulls in this story see competing in the ring as fighting for glory. They also believe winning will help them escape the confines of the corrals. What is the real outcome for these animals? Learn more about Spain’s tradition of bull fighting.
News About "Ferdinand"
Ferdinand was previously titled The Story of Ferdinand.
The movie's script was inspired by the beloved book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson.
From the Studio:
FERDINAND tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover.
- Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox