‘Ferdinand’ proves that change starts with self

Ferdinand, directed by Carlos Saldanha, tells the story of a young bull who stood out from the rest. Like Rudolph and the other reindeer, the other steer on his ranch poked fun at him and questioned why he wouldn’t engage in their aggressive play. While butting heads and bulldozing objects wasn’t his forte, he did enjoy one thing; flowers.

This ranch, in particular, had a reputation for providing bulls to Madrid for bullfights. While Matadors came for the bulls, it was the goal of every bull to take out the Matador since it had never been done. Ferdinand (John Cena) is joined by Bones (Anthony Anderson), Guapo (Peyton Manning), and Valiente (Bobby Canavale). Valiente tries to act like the tough kid in front of everybody but that’s just him acting out because he’s jealous. Ferdinand’s father is a big strong bull but also treats Ferdinand with kindness. In contrast, Valiente’s father is extremely harsh with him and has a dark outlook on life which Valiente hides by bullying people.

After Ferdinand’s father is picked for the ring, he waits around for his father’s return but it was to no avail. Soon discovering this is not a life for him, he takes a gamble and runs away. He makes his way to a far away meadow (after getting rescued because he fell down a hill) and wakes up in the care of a young girl named Nina (Lily Day). She keeps Ferdinand and allows him free rein of the pasture, often finding himself under his favorite tree, smelling flowers, and enjoying the views.

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At this point, it would seem like you could just end the story and live happily ever after right? Well, Ferdinand sadly makes one crucial mistake by following Nina and her father to the flower festival in the city. Now that Ferdinand is a full-size bull, it would be best for him to stay at home. He’s harmless but his sheer size would scare people and sure enough, it did. He’s eventually captured and taken back to the ranch where he started. All of the other bulls were shocked and amazed at how large he had grown and of course, Valiente took extra exception to this. But Ferdinand stood his ground and avoided violence at all costs.

Now that he’s back as an adult, he eventually musters up the courage to tell everyone there that they don’t have to fight. It was clear that they truly didn’t want to, but needed to for survival. As a group, everyone was on the same page which was training to beat the Matador in case they were picked, but behind closed doors with Ferdinand, they exposed themselves. They were grief-stricken, knowing that no bull has ever gone to the ring and returned.

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After threats throughout the movie, from bulls, humans, and Matadors, Ferdinand showed the entire city that violence was unnecessary. The rose-sniffing giant stood face-to-face with what looked to be death by sword and he merely plopped back on his behind and stared. His peaceful protest drew a roar from the crowd as they pleaded “Let him live!”

By staying true to himself and being the change he always knew was possible, all the rest of the animals were spared and he was able to return to the farm with Nina again. It’s a valuable lesson in humility, peace, and staying true to oneself no matter what. Not to mention adults will recognize it for the humor that only a grown person could get.

I give Ferdinand an 8.5 out of 10. At 106 minutes you shouldn’t be bored as it’s just a few minutes over the 90-minute average. If you have the time I’d see it while it’s in theaters. If you have children I’d definitely take them to see it sooner than later simply because of the message that’s wrapped inside all the fun.

Give it a whirl,

-Jon J.

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