I review certain non-Disney animated movies, because I trust their judgement, although I was one of the lucky ones to not review “The Emoji Movie.” And given this is the holidays, I’m pretty sure kids and parents are salvaging to see “Ferdinand,” which is the second theatrical release of the classic book. The first was a Disney cartoon from 1938, and this one is from Blue Sky Studios, best known for “Ice Age” and “Rio.”
The minute the movie started, I knew it was going to be engaging, mainly because the animation is flexible, and allows the characters to move in special ways. It makes them seem more like cartoon characters, and to me, that’s a lot of fun.
Set in Spain, John Cena voices the bull Ferdinand, who wants to be a lover, and not a fighter. He lives with a little girl named Nina (voiced by Lily Day), and spends most of his time smelling flowers. When he sits on a bee, and goes berserk in the local town, and is taken to a bull farm, where he escaped as a calf. The other bulls, including his old rival Valiente (voiced by Bobby Cannavale), train to fight the latest matador (voiced by Miguel Angel Silvestre).
Ferdinand leads the other bulls to freedom, and he enlists the help of an old goat named Lupe (voiced by Kate McKinnon, proving she’s better off playing cartoon characters than humans) and three sneaky hedgehogs-Una (voiced by Gina Rodriguez), Dos (voiced by Daveed Diggs), and Cuatro (voiced by Gabriel Iglesias). Don’t ask “What happened to Tres?.”
“Ferdinand” is a major step-up from Blue Sky Studio’s last feature “Ice Age: Collision Course,” which was a total disaster. It has a touching story, cute characters, and engaging voices from Cena, McKinnon, Cannavale, Rodriguez, Diggs, Iglesias, Anthony Anderson, and David Tennant.
And unlike “Smurfs: The Lost Village” or “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” this animated film lets us get to know the supporting characters without giving them just one-liners or montages. They aren’t annoying or uninteresting; they’re charming. Other than some unnecessary things, “Ferdinand” is an absolute delight for kids and parents.