Strength In Simplicity: Our Review of ‘Ferdinand’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - December 15, 2017
Strength In Simplicity: Our Review of ‘Ferdinand’

Sometimes you just want a good old fashioned, entertaining romp of a story.

While with Ferdinand we get something that doesn’t necessarily have the technical prowess and epic beauty of something like Coco; it’s still nice to have a fun and goofy family friendly adventure that isn’t trying so hard to be something ‘important’.

It’s the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, Ferdinand (John Cena) 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

A film like this would have to be summed up as the epitome of solid storytelling as Ferdinand stays inside its comfort zone thanks to some charming visuals, well managed direction and above averaging casting as the voice work is spot on and of the highest quality.

From the team at Blue Sky Studios who are settling into a comfortable little slot behind the Disney/Pixar machine in North America for making animated features, Ferdinand plays about how you’d expect it to, with fun characters, colourful visuals, an obstacle to overcome and yada yada yada.  However where director Carlos Saldhana really strikes a positive cord is in the simple yet effective messages that come across in the film which never tries to hard to be important or relevant yet still providing something meaningful alongside the slapstick comedy.  It has a great flow and never gets bogged down in set pieces or any overly character driven moments finding a balance that makes it all seem pretty effortless

No one will ever accuse Ferdinand of being a flashy film, but it is an incredibly well made one and sometimes that just doesn’t get appreciated enough because it marries broad and obvious comedy with some insightful thoughts about male expectations, our roles in life and the things that are perceived that we are supposed to do.

John Cena was an inspired choice for the title role, as the recognizable, larger than life professional grappler has a natural and much underrated knack for comedy.  You can write lines and give him great people to work with, but you just can’t teach being naturally funny and charismatic which he has in spades.  These traits give the character some genuine heart but also lets it come from a relatable place as you never really expect a guy that is 6’1 and 250 lbs to be able to pull off warm and cuddly which Cena succeeds at in spades.

Kate McKinnon is simply comedic wild fire and is a solid addition as partner and foil in these adventures while the likes of Bobby Cannavalle, Anthony Anderson, David Tennant and Gina Rodriguez all provide some fodder for the fun in this story.

With its solid visuals, strong physical comedy and quality message, the genuine magic of Ferdinand is that it actually manages to stay to true to its core values without succumbing to any storytelling tricks that would end up as pandering and forced.  There’s a genuine sincerity to trying to keep things simple, and that’s why this film works.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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