Arts movie review

A fun, albeit generic, family flick for the holidays

‘Ferdinand’ is your run-of-the-mill children’s movie bound to still teach a few good lessons

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Ferdinand and Lupe.
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

[missing stars]

Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Based on books by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson
Screenplay by Robert Baird, Tim Federie, and Brad Copeland

From the people who brought you Ice Age (and Ice Age 2, 3, 4 and more….) comes Ferdinand, the story of “a giant bull with a big heart.” Given its creators, Ferdinand offers exactly what you might expect — an over-the-top, farcical animation that, while accomplishes nothing remarkable, is well-suited for its young audience.

Ferdinand tells the story of a champion bloodline bull (John Cena). While he maintains the measurements of his ancestry, Ferdinand lacks the fighting mentality. Instead, he prefers to garden, frolic, and dance. The movie tells the story of his journey to escape his destiny of fighting in the ring and return to his family in the Spanish countryside.

The film stars a cast of characters typical of its genre. You have Lupe (Kate McKinnon), the comedic sidekick (think Shrek’s Donkey or Sid the Sloth from Ice Age) who takes the form of an extremely talkative, dumb, and enthusiastic goat. You have a classic villain, the bullfighter El Primero (Miguel Ángel Silvestre); and you have the misunderstood bully, Valiente (Bobby Cannavale), who turns over a new leaf at the end of the film.

Despite Ferdinand’s lack of originality, it still has its comedic moments. For example, take the scene where Ferdinand becomes a literal “bull in a china shop” or has a dance off with a trio of inbred horses. Unfortunately, while these laugh out loud moments occur throughout the film, they make up a minority of the attempts at humor. Nonetheless, kids are sure to be thrilled throughout. The soundtrack is suitable for all ages, featuring a mix of Nick Jonas, Juanes, Pitbull and more.

In short, if you are looking for cinematic excellence, look elsewhere, but if you are part of a family with younger kids, Ferdinand may be a good compromise that will keep the little ones entertained and will at least be bearable for everyone else.