Ferdinand movie review: Hits the sweet spot between comfortable and predictable
The new animated film Ferdinand hits the sweet spot between the comforting and the predictable – it’s ultimately the film to watch if you don’t get tickets to the Star Wars movie
Sometimes a predictable story is just what you need as a cinema geek, because if executed well enough the experience becomes a passably fun stress free time at the movies. The new animated film Ferdinand hits the sweet spot between the comforting and the predictable – it’s ultimately the film to watch if you don’t get tickets to the Star Wars movie which is also out in theaters today.
The film is directed by Carlos Saldanha who has made the Ice Age movies and Rio. The formula of Ferdinand is precisely as found in those films – an outcast non human who is generally likable finds himself in a strange situation where he has to redeem himself and earn the respect of everyone.
It’s in fact the standard issue plot strategy for most animated movies nowadays – where the protagonist is born in a world which has certain kind of rules, but he believes in doing just the opposite.
In the film we have Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) who is a Spanish fighting bull but has no desire to fight in the ring because he prefers chilling on the hill, smelling flowers and cracking jokes with his buddies. You can guess where this is going and how kind of conflict he faces within the film, and how he manages to overcome opposing voices and eventually wins everyone’s hearts.
If you think about it this is also the story of Ratatouille, where the protagonist doesn’t want to be a rat and steal food, but cook food. The ‘message’ that Ferdinand delivers is also the same as that Pixar film and many other animation movies that are meant for children to be entertained by but also learn a life lesson.
But even in the face of obviousness Ferdinand sort of works mainly because it’s plain and simple fun. Cena’s casting was an inspired choice considering he’s very much like the protagonist – a huge dude with a soft heart. It works as a running gag of sorts – something like an extension of his role in the hilarious Trainwreck.
He’s the lovable, kind hearted archetype, but Cena’s voice work is so good it’s fun to watch. The skirmish that Ferdinand is faced with is also rather entertaining – he’s pulled away from his green pastures and forced to fight a legendary matador to the death in a bull ring. The supporting characters, who try to help Ferdinand escape are hysterical – particularly Lupe (voice by Kate McKinnon) who is a ‘calming goat’.
The film moves very fast, zipping from one set piece to another, making sure no kid watching loses interest. But that sometimes works against the film because we don’t learn about the characters well enough to care about them. That is of course a problem that adults would have and the target audience of the film - children would simply sit back and giggle over the string of goofy things that occur in the film.
Keep your expectations low and you’ll find yourselves enjoying this one.
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