Genre: Animated Comedy
Running Time: 107 mins
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale & Peyton Manning
(Movie House Dublin Road Press Screenings)
After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is 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.
Disney is having yet another banner year and Ferdinand caps that off for two reasons. Firstly, it’s not a Disney film but it owes an awful lot to some recent Pixar hits and secondly it’s released the same week as The Last Jedi. In terms of Box Office, virtually nothing can compete with Disney right now; They are an actual Box Office equivalent of a Death Star but minus those inane and convenient plot contrivances that allow the rebels to destroy the Death Star every single time. Nothing can stop them, not even antitrust laws it would seem.
21st Century Fox (which Disney will all but surely own by this time next year) is the studio behind Ferdinand and perhaps it’s the one good thing that will come out of Disney’s acquisition of Fox and it’s that the House of Mouse would never have released a film as vacuous and second-rate as Ferdinand. It’s a film that feels focus-grouped to the point where you forget that it’s based on a children’s book from the 1930’s and instead you find yourself being reminded of Disney and Pixar’s greatest hits and not in a flattering way.
I could tell you the story of Ferdinand but why bother when the makers seemingly set up the rules of the world that these characters inhabit only to break them later because sure, kids are stupid and they won’t care. WRONG!!! And it’s doubly insulting to parents who are dragged to the cinema (and let’s be honest, they are dragged because life is really tough dammit) because at least Pixar have the decency to make films that adults can enjoy too.
I laughed maybe twice during this film and on both counts it was me laughing at the film and not with it. The ineptitude of the world-building was as obvious as the blatant plagiarism (everybody steals but Jesus, dress it up a little!) on display and you’ll recognise one obvious segment where they rip off the last act of Finding Dory (which was a really great film for kids and adults) and you also find a glaringly obvious steal from the take on the three little pigs from Shrek.
Ferdinand is supposedly set in Spain but you’ll find scant evidence of this (oh apart from that one Pitbull song that everyone knows because nothing says Spain more than a Cuban-American rapper) and a couple of insulting snippets of Los del Río’s “Macarena”. Yep, a country rich in musical culture and history and they went with “Macarena”.
There are more than a few Latin-American talents in the voice cast but they are disappointingly (and sadly predictably) relegated to secondary or minimal roles whereas the top-billed voice cast are unambiguously white Americans. I know I started with being hugely skeptical of Disney but Pixar’s latest, Coco, is set in Mexico and features an authentically Mexican and Mexican-American cast in lead roles. Disney just does this type of thing better it seems but when all the competition (or former competition in this case) can muster is Ferdinand, we really should start to worry.
There may have been a better movie in Ferdinand if they had chosen to be a little more authentic to the location and setting and there were interesting topics touched upon like non-violence and a possibly vegetarian message but they are never fully explored so we miss out on something more provocative and interesting.
A misfire on almost every level and very young kids (7 and upwards will be unimpressed I would wager) may not know the difference but you dear parent/guardian/uncle/auntie surely will. Stick with something Pixar. Even if you’ve seen it before.