Okay, so let me get this down for the record. I respect John Cena. As a man and celebrity of the people, he’s a good guy and seems really chill and fun to be around. I can’t speak for his wrestling career, as I don’t like sports, but I can probably take some jabs at his film career. Appearing in the Fred movie franchise, THE MARINE (2006), the man’s film career has been less than stellar. This isn’t to say that he’s the worst actor, but he’s not always given the best roles. I kind of enjoyed THE MARINE for how bad it was and I thought he was arguably the best part of TRAINWRECK (2015) and was mildly amusing in SISTERS (2015), but for the most part, I think the guy is just staying relevant rather than taking his career seriously. Which is fine, he’s got an audience, he’ll never be short of work, due to his popularity, and so long as he remains a good man to his fans, he’s got my support in whatever he does.
Having said that, I am not looking forward to this movie, though it’s more because it’s a Blue Sky production rather than Cena himself. Blue Sky is known for the Ice Age and Rio movies, as well as HORTON HEARS A WHO! (2008) and my favorite film of theirs, THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015), just to name a few. Let’s face it, Blue Sky is no Pixar or Disney. They’re not even Dreamworks. Far too many of their films aren’t funny and are so sub par compared to what other animated kids movies have done, and this doesn’t look different.
The story looks like it’s about a bull who is treated like a pet, but because of a bull’s reputation for being violent, he’s feared by the locals. His clumsiness eventually leads him to getting thrown in bullfighting, even though he doesn’t know the first thing about it and tries to escape to go home to his family.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have John Cena (DADDY’S HOME TWO , SISTERS , THE REUNION , and upcoming films BLOCKERS  and BUMBLEBEE ), Kate McKinnon (ROUGH NIGHT , ANGRY BIRDS , SISTERS, and upcoming films THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME  and FAM-I-LY ), Gina Rodriguez (THE STAR , DEEPWATER HORIZON , TV show JANE THE VIRGIN [2014 – ongoing], and upcoming films ANNIHILATION  and SMALLFOOT ), Bobby Canavale (JUMANJI 2 , I, TONYA , DANNY COLLINS , and upcoming films THE IRISHMAN  and GOING PLACES ), and David Tennant (TV shows DUCKTALES [2017 – ongoing], JESSICA JONES [2015 – ongoing], DOCTOR WHO [2005 – 2013], and upcoming films MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS  and CHEW ). In support, we have Anthony Anderson (THE STAR, THE DEPARTED , and SEE SPOT RUN ), Peyton Manning (feature film debut; congrats, sir), Daveed Diggs (WONDER  and the upcoming BLINDSPOTTING ), and Gabriel Iglesias (THE STAR, NORM OF THE NORTH , MAGIC MIKE XXL , and upcoming films SHOW DOGS  and BLAZING SAMURAI ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Carlos Saldanha, known for RIO 2 (2014), ROBOTS (2005), and ICE AGE (2002). Penning the screenplay, we have a red flag total of three writers: Robert L. Baird (BIG HERO 6  and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY ), Tim Federle (feature film debut; congrats, sir), and Brad Copeland (YOGI BEAR , WILD HOGS , and 6 episodes of TV show LIFE IN PIECES [2015 – ongoing]). Composing the score is John Powell, known for JASON BOURNE (2016), KUNG FU PANDA (2008), FACE/OFF (1997), and upcoming films SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018) and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD (2019). The cinematographer is Renato Falcão, known for ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (2016), THE PEANUTS MOVIE, and RIO (2011). Finally, the editor is Harry Hitner, known for RIO 2, ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS (2009), and ZEUS AND ROXANNE (1997).
Overall, nope, not looking forward to this. I think it’s going to be really stupid with stale humor.
This is my honest opinion of: FERDINAND
Ever since he was a calf, Ferdinand (voiced by Colin H. Murphy) was always different from the other bulls. While they were excited to grow up and become fighting bulls, Ferdinand was passive. He didn’t like the idea of fighting, so he never did. But after realizing that his father Raf (voiced by Jeremy Sisto) isn’t coming back, he escapes and finds himself a new home with Nina (voiced by Lily Day), a little girl and her family. Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) grows up living carefree and as a member of the family. But when a special event is going on in the city, and he’s not allowed to go due to his size, he decides to go anyway. This is sadly a mistake as he accidentally causes all sorts of damage after getting stung by a bee. He is seen as a danger and taken back to his bullfighting farm that he grew up in to be trained.
… Okay before you all stone me to death, let me say that I’m not exactly recommending this to be seen right now. It’s no Disney or Pixar film. It’s not even a Dreamworks film. But… for a Blue Sky production, it’s not their worst.
Believe it or not there is a fair amount of laughs. Nothing gut-wrenching, or overly clever, but one or two gags did get a legit giggle out of me. For one thing, Cena kind of sells his performance as Ferdinand. I won’t necessarily say he was good as it’s obvious that he’s trying too hard, but he puts so must effort and energy into it that his over-the-top delivery somehow meshes with the animation almost a little too well. Not to mention that Ferdinand’s intro scene was well done, being a character who is unapologetic about being passive, and even though he won’t ever fight, he’s not afraid to stand up for himself. I’d be lying if the movie didn’t start off well, even likable, and dare I say it… refreshing. Even Ferdinand’s dad doesn’t immediately shame him for being passive, but knows that his beliefs may get shattered later in life. Some of the side characters are funny too, like Maquina (voiced by Tim Nordquist) was kind of funny, and even though I’ll get to my dislike for Lupe (voiced by Kate McKinnon), the hardest I’ve laughed is when she gets hurt. Jeez, I hope that’s not indicative of how I feel about McKinnon… I’m worried about myself. The drama surprisingly works and some of the emotions come through too, some of the animation for the scenery is stunning, despite how cartoonish the characters are, there’s some surprisingly positive moments here.
But remember, there’s a reason why I say that no one should rush out to see this and why I don’t think that this movie was selling out is at all justified when COCO is still out and not selling out nearly as much. This is because for every surprisingly good joke, there’s two unsurprisingly bad jokes. Ferdinand as a nun? What? The German horses were annoying like you wouldn’t believe (or were they Scottish?), and McKinnon’s streak isn’t broken from playing obnoxious characters. Not only is Lupe kind of a weird design, but she’s not written any better. She’s so stupid. She somehow doesn’t hear that Ferdinand isn’t a fighter and spends so much of her time trying to train someone who doesn’t want training. It’s a running gag that I can’t get behind. Like I said, the only redeeming quality is that Lupe is the subject of many of the slapstick and her pain was my happiness. But the balance of slapstick and “humor” isn’t even and she’s more annoying than funny.
Overall, this movie wasn’t unbearable. It had some good moments here and there, but when it’s not here and there, it’s about as stupid as you can imagine. I know kids may enjoy it well enough, but adults… eh, it’s leagues better than THE EMOJI MOVIE (2017), but it’s still not a great movie, nor is it all that good. But I can’t say that it’s bad either. If nothing else, I recommend a rental. Cute enough for kids, and ultimately harmless, but there’s better out there, even by Blue Sky. It’s just meh, bullieve me.
My honest rating for FERDINAND: 3/5
PS: Believe it or not, this movie based on a children’s book called THE STORY OF FERDINAND, written by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson back in 1936. If your youngins’ were fans, or would rather see where Ferdinand came from, get the book.