Ferdinand hits the family Christmas movie bullseye
DAVID TENNANT voicing a bovine hairy Highlander called Angus who expresses his exasperation by saying ‘away, boil yer heeds, yer bunch of barmpots!’ is but one of the pleasures afforded by this 3D animated version of the celebrated children’s book about a Spanish bull who prefers flowers to fighting.
American author Munro Leaf is said to have written his 1936 classic The Story Of Ferdinand in an afternoon.
It was published during the Spanish Civil War and abhorred by some for its perceived pacifist agenda. Indeed, it remained banned in Spain until after Franco’s death, while the Nazis had it burnt, calling it ‘degenerate propaganda’.
It also happens to be a really lovely story, and Brazilian animator Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age) has, on the whole, done it proper justice here. It really doesn’t deserve to butt heads in the nation’s multiplexes with the leviathan that is Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but if you have children too young for the Force these Christmas holidays, then treat them to the Ferd.
In a nutshell, gentle Ferdinand escapes as a young bullock from the ‘Casa del Toro’ and grows up on a farm, adored and indulged by the farmer’s daughter. But a series of misadventures lead him back to the brutal world of bullfighting, where at first his only friend is a goat (voiced by Kate McKinnon). Unfortunately, Ferdinand (John Cena) has developed into a giant and, to his horror, is chosen by the greatest matador in Spain, El Primero, to be his valedictory adversary in the ring in Madrid.
The film doesn’t entirely solve the problem of how to sidestep the questionable morality of bullfighting, and it’s a little disconcerting to be served Spanish culture with an American accent. But, for a gorgeous sequence in a china shop alone, Ferdinand is a family film worth seeing.