Charm­ing chil­dren’s an­i­ma­tion about a paci­fist bull

The Week - - Arts -

Fer­di­nand is a heart-warm­ing chil­dren’s an­i­ma­tion about broth­er­hood, brav­ery and… bull­fight­ing? That may not sound much like fes­tive fam­ily fare, said Ed Pot­ton in The Times. Yet rest as­sured: Fer­di­nand is en­tirely free of “vi­cious bovine cru­elty”. Its pro­tag­o­nist (voiced by the ac­tor and wrestler John Cena) is a “non-fight­ing bull” who es­capes from the farm where he was des­tined for the arena, and finds hap­pi­ness with a hu­man fam­ily who run a florist.

The film is based on a paci­fist fa­ble by the Amer­i­can writer Munro Leaf, which was banned by Franco and burned by Hitler, said Olly Richards in Time Out. In­con­ve­niently, it was only 30 pages long, so ex­tend­ing it into a full-length fea­ture proves a stretch. And there’s some­thing a lit­tle “disin­gen­u­ous” about the way Fer­di­nand draws on the “mythol­ogy” of bull­fight­ing, yet avoids the bru­tal re­al­ity, said Ge­of­frey Mac­nab in The In­de­pen­dent. But for all that, it’s “charm­ing” en­ter­tain­ment. Its tal­ented vo­cal cast in­cludes David Ten­nant as a Scot­tish bull, whose vi­sion is so ob­scured by his hair that he con­verses with the back­sides of other bulls.

The scene in which our hero lit­er­ally wan­ders into a china shop, with hi­lar­i­ous re­sults, is worth the price of ad­mis­sion, said Brian Viner in the Daily Mail. It’s rather a shame that this en­joy­able film is com­pet­ing with Star Wars at the mul­ti­plex, but if your chil­dren are too young to be ex­posed to the Dark Side, take them to this in­stead.

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