Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2017. Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Animation. Screen story by Ron Burch, David Kidd, Don Rhymer, Screenplay by Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copeland, based on the book by Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson. Cinematography by Renato Falcao. Produced by Bruce Anderson, Lori Forte, Lisa Marie Stetler. Music by John Powell. Production Design by Thomas Cardone. Film Editing by Harry Hitner. Academy Awards 2017. Golden Globe Awards 2017.
A farm in rural Spain raises bulls meant to fight matadors, encouraging the aggressive behaviour that gets the animals picked when toreros come looking for the finest specimen to face off with. The animals are all proud of their hypermasculinity, with the excepion of sweet Ferdinand, a kindly calf with a heart of gold and a passion for the beauty and smell of flowers. Escaping the compound after seeing his sympathetic father taken to the bullring, Ferdinand grows up on the floral-filled pastures owned by a father and daughter who love him and keep him close, with little Nina even snuggling up with the eventually massive bull at night in her bed. By the time he has fully grown, Ferdinand is forbidden from joining his human companions at the annual flower festival because his size makes it impractical, but he can’t avoid going and, as can be expected, his presence causes mayhem (a visual pun involving an actual bull in a china shop is one of the film’s funniest jokes). From there he is sent back to the farm he grew up on and is reunited with his old friends, all of whom have been mentally twisted by the expectations of violence and strength that they believe their future requires, while Ferdinand insists on remaining peaceful and doesn’t want to lock horns with anyone. The delightful humour of the supporting characters (including some sassy hedgehogs and some hysterically snobby horses) are combined with a few clever sequences for a film that will delight the children and amuse adults. It doesn’t have the sharp panache of a Pixar adventure, and could stand to be a bit shorter, but what it lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in sweetness and sincerity.