It’s so easy to see how this could have been emotionally richer that it feels like a let-down when it merely seems interested in goofy slapstick. Loosely inspired by the classic picture book, it follows a gentle, flower-loving bull named Ferdinand (John Cena) whose happy life with a young girl is turned upside-down when he’s returned to the farm where he grew up, raised for the bullfights of Madrid. Director Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age) and company throw in a handful of lively supporting characters, including a goat (Kate McKinnon) and a trio of hedgehogs, filling the story with plenty of chases, escapes, rescues and other high-energy action. It’s all good for a few laughs, but there’s not much more to it than that, even though Ferdinand’s rivalry with another, more aggressive bull (Bobby Canavale) seems like the beginning of a kid-friendly exploration of toxic mas-cow-linity. Ultimately, Ferdinand himself is a blandly nice protagonist, albeit one who sticks admirably to his pacifist principles, in a story that shoves aside much of its deeper meaning to go for the Looney Tunes gusto.
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Producer: Bruce Anderson, John Davis, Lori Forte, Lisa Stetler and Chris Wedge
Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, David Tennant, Anthony Anderson, Flula Borg, Sally Phillips, Boris Kodjoe, Jerrod Carmichael, Raúl Esparza, Karla Martínez, Miguel Silvestre, Peyton Manning, Juanes and Jeremy Sisto