Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Movie with Abe: Ferdinand

Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Released December 15, 2017

Most people just want to fit in, and some are lucky enough to be born into a life that suits them well. Gender, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and many more factors can make or break people if the pressures put upon them to conform to some familial or societal expectation are too strong. A number of great films tell the stories of protagonists who overcome the odds and persevere despite being constantly told that they can’t accomplish what they want or be who they want to be. Animated films usually find creative ways to depict the world, and exploring how animals, like humans, might not always be born into the right roles.

Ferdinand is a young bull who grows up watching his father train to be a bullfighter on a ranch in Spain. Though he admires his father, he is constantly teased for his aversion to any sort of violence and his sweeter side. When his father is picked for a match and does not return, Ferdinand runs away and is taken in by Nina and her father, a florist, who treat him as a beloved household family pet along with their dog. When Ferdinand grows to be huge, his innocent desire to attend a flower festival leads to the public perception that he is a menace, sending him straight back to the same ranch he grew up on, where he is now the largest bull and the one who, with the help of a talkative goat named Lupe, must figure out a way to save everyone from certain doom once they are either chosen for a fight or deemed worthless.

There’s the same kind of wonderful message in this film that exists in so many animated films, and this one is actually based on a 1936 children’s book by Munro Leaf. Some lines indicate more depth, like “Where do you think the word bully comes from? It ain’t from chickens!” while others are played much more for laughs, like Ferdinand, traipsing carefully around a store packed with fragile dishes, telling himself, “Think thin, you’re a two-thousand-pound feather.” All the animals on the ranch have talents, which does lead to unnecessary musical numbers, but it also represents a multicultural cast representing a number of different countries.

This film, which is one of the nominees for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, is a decently entertaining flick that, while enjoyable enough for adults, is definitely geared much more towards kids, unlike the film that’s sure to win the Oscar, “Coco.” The voice cast is great, led by John Cena as the affable, excitable Ferdinand and featuring a number of comedians, including Kate McKinnon as Lupe. This is, more than anything, a sweet film that imagines animals as being especially human, looking around and determining for themselves what they want to make of their time in the world.


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