Mission Lab

REVIEW: ‘Ferdinand’ is a fun family flick with tons of great lessons

May 18th, 2018 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: ‘Ferdinand’ is a fun family flick with tons of great lessons

Ferdinand is a timid young bull living in an aggressive world. He enjoys butterflies and flowers. His bull friends prefer fighting.

This doesn’t mean, though, that he won’t stand up to others when necessary – like when the barnyard bully threatens to uproot a flower.

“You can hit me if you want, but leave the flower alone,” Ferdinand tells him.

Ferdinand may be different on the inside, but on the outside he still looks like a, well, bull. This means that despite his tender demeanor, everyone still expects him to take part in the bullfights. It also means that his massive appearance terrifies the local townspeople, even if we wouldn’t harm a flea.

“I’m not a fighter,” he declares.

But when Ferdinand accidentally wins a barnyard fight against one of the herd’s top bulls, he gets chosen by legendary matador El Primero for a bullfight in the arena – with thousands of onlookers cheering for blood. Can Ferdinand survive the fight, and perhaps teach his friends a few lessons, too?

The Oscar-nominated Ferdinand (PG) recently was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms, starring WWE wrestler John Cena as the voice of Ferdinand, Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters) as his goat friend Lupe, Anthony Anderson (The Star) as the bull Bones, and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning as the bull Guapo. It received an Oscar nomination for best animated movie of 2017 and another nomination for best original movie song (Home).

Ferdinand is an enjoyable and mostly family-friendly movie that has a few good lessons, with only minor content concerns.

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers ahead!

(Scale key: Minimal, moderate, extreme)

Violence/Disturbing

Minimal. Some of the calves bully Ferdinand. At one point they chant, “fight, fight, fight!” Bulls butt heads/horns. We learn that Ferdinand’s father was killed in a bullfight. Ferdinand nearly passes out after touching an electric fence. We see Ferdinand fight another bull in the barnyard. We learn that one of his friends was taken away to be slaughtered. Despite the real-life bloody nature of bullfights, we never see any blood.

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

Minimal. Lupe says of Ferdinand, “Look at those pecs!” A man pats his bottom, calling it his “buttocks.” The horses and Ferdinand take part in a dance competition and shake their rears.

Coarse Language

None. Although there are instances of “butt” (6), “suck” (3), gosh (1) and “jeez” (1).

Other Positive Elements

Ferdinand’s father is a good role model and a loving dad. Ferdinand is raised as a pet by a young girl, and their relationship is enjoyable to watch. When Ferdinand learns that the bully has been sent to the slaughterhouse, he wants to save him.

Life Lessons

The movie gives us lessons on bullying, standing up for what is right (Ferdinand), facing peer pressure (Ferdinand), self-sacrifice (Ferdinand and his friends), teamwork (Ferdinand and his friends) and overcoming odds (Ferdinand).

Worldview

At its core, Ferdinand is a movie about being yourself and not succumbing to peer pressure. Viewed through a biblical lens, it’s a good message. I have four children, and each have different talents. This, of course, can result in jealousy, especially if one child is succeeding where the others cannot. I’m often reminding each of them: You are uniquely gifted. Don’t worry about what your brother or sister or even others think. Be yourself. Be the person God made you to be!  

God has a plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11), and He has given each of us unique talents (1 Peter 4:10-11, 1 Corinthians 12:5-6). But if we’re constantly wanting to be someone else, or if we’re feeling pressure to be someone else, then we can’t live a life pleasing to the Lord.

No doubt, the theme of Ferdinand (“be yourself”) can be twisted to include things that God prohibits. But viewed correctly, it’s a nice message.   

What Works

The humor. The scene of Ferdinand maneuvering through a china shop is worth the rental price.

What Doesn’t

Ferdinand is a few scenes from being a perfect family-friendly film. Remove the potty language, the rear-shaking and a couple of other minor things, and it is.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever faced pressure to be someone you didn’t want to be? What did you do?
  2. When does “be yourself” become an unbiblical message?
  3. What can we learn about bullying from watching Ferdinand?
  4. How do we know God’s will for our lives?  

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Ferdinand is rated PG for rude humor, action and some thematic elements.