Yeah, I did not make that subtitle up…
So Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) grows up in this farm getting harassed by the others and frankly feeling lonesome. This movie starts off powerful, letting you know of the harsh reality of a bull’s life while throwing in a heartfelt opening. Ferdinand escapes the barn, eventually finding his way to a calm home up on the top of a hill with a little girl and her dad.
The setup is wide open for a powerful animated message about pacifism…so it’s heartbreaking to watch this film stop giving a crud once Ferdinand wanders into the town one day without permission of his owner, getting into some hijinks and then gets sent back to the ranch he was born in and originally escaped from.
There, he meets the most annoying sidekick character Lupe the Goat (voiced by Kate McKinnon), the hedgehog trio (voiced by Gina Rodriguesz, Daveed Diggs & Gabriel Iglesias) and some other stereotypes. The rest of this movie amends to a washed up business executive trying to figure out what’s cool with the kids these days. All of these characters can be described in one fragment of a sentence except for Ferdinand, but all of these other characters are so obnoxious that Ferdinand is not enough to hold through.
It’s not just the fact that everybody in here is solely purposed for some cheap repeated gags, but this film tries really hard to irritate the heck out of you with dated meme references and bizarre dance numbers. There’s a scene that for no reason, the bulls and the German horses decide to have a dance off, using modern rap music, complete with classic moves, such as twerking or doing the robot. Yes, the horses also dab.
Must not forget, this movie is releasing itself almost a month after COCO, which both happen to be set in a cultural setting. Not everything has to be Pixar, but knowing they went out of their way to respect its setting and use it to tell an inspired story. Ferdinand instead goes for the minimal requirement of an animated feature for the smallest of children. The film loves to recycle its jokes several times. Not just jokes, there are two rap dance numbers and four times we need to have The Macarena dance.
By the time this movie wraps up on an intended emotional note with Ferdinand having to forcefully face a bull fight, I was only reminded of what this could have been and decided not to be. It doesn’t help that the animation looks rushed with frame rate dips occurring throughout the film. This is not one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year, but it was seriously pushing for it with its lazy as heck structure. A great 8-10 minute opening is not enough to make this 1h 47min of mostly unfiltered crud worth watching!