Ferdinand is a Spanish bull incapabull of fighting – he’d rather smell the flowers.



It’s a dog-eat-dog, bull-fight-bull world but all Ferdinand wants to do is smell the flowers. The son of a great fighter, Ferdinand is saddened when his father never returns from the ring. Why did he never come home? So Ferdinand escapes the confines of the Casa del Toro, a place where he has always refused to cross horns with the other bullocks. Then, as luck would have it, he is befriended by a little girl, Nina, who is the daughter of a floriculturist. So Nina and the little black bull grow up together and Ferdinand is even allowed to sleep in her bed. And all day long he can smell the flowers. Later, at a flower festival, Ferdinand is stung by a bee and runs riot, attracting the attention of the authorities. Because now Ferdinand has grown up and he’s a very big bull indeed…


Munro Leaf’s 1936 picture book The Story of Ferdinand is something of an American classic – and a pacifist tract – and was previously turned into a short cartoon by Walt Disney. Here, the people that brought us the Ice Age and Rio films have gone for the full-length treatment and have beefed up the story with loads of physical slapstick. There’s a particularly unprepossessing goat called Lupe (voiced by Kate McKinnon), a trio of irritating hedgehogs and some snooty Austrian horses. And it really does feel like padding.


What the cartoon really needed was charm, but here Carlos Saldanha’s film lurches from the cloying to the madcap punctuated by some inane musical sequences. This is all a terrible shame as the blood sport of bullfighting is still a hot potato in Spain (it was banned in Barcelona in 2012) and remains a tourist attraction in several countries in Europe, Mexico and South America. The sole sequence that showed any potential for comic ingenuity is when Ferdinand finds himself in a china shop – but even this crashes about his ears.




Voices of  John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning, Gina Rodriguez, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, David Tennant, Daveed Diggs, Sally Phillips, Lily Day, Jeremy Sisto.


Dir Carlos Saldanha, Pro John Davis, Lisa Marie Stetler, Lori Forte and Bruce Anderson, Screenplay Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle and Brad Copeland, from a story by Ron Burch, David Kidd and Don Rhymer, Ph Renato Falcão, Ed Harry Hitner, Music John Powell.


Blue Sky Studios/20th Century Fox Animation/Davis Entertainment-20th Century Fox.

106 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 9 December 2017. Cert. U.