Ferdinand (Saldanha, 2017)

Ferdinand is a difficult film to dislike, what with its sympathetic hero and the colourful characters supporting his journey. I quite like its firm stance against the barbaric spectacle of bullfighting, and if you dig deeper, Ferdinand’s gentleness and unwillingness to be a fighting bull could be interpreted through a queer lens. He knows he’s not macho and masculine like other bulls, and it doesn’t faze him. He’s happy to be that way, and tries to get others to be on the same page. A good lesson to give kids these days. To hell with normative gender views! Let bulls sniff the field flowers if they want to. Accept them for who they are and not what they’re expected to be.

The assembled voice cast is also pretty swell (though I’m bound to say that whenever Kate McKinnon is in anything, because how can you not?). A nice change of pace for John Cena, whose acting career has been mostly relegated to dumb muscle men thus far. He gives Ferdinand a friendly and compassionate vibe that I found pleasant. McKinnon, of course, does a lot of scene-stealing as a zany goat, proving that she can pretty much do everything and be good at it. Story-wise, there are pockets of dead air here and there; the German horses, in particular, seem to exist only to kill time, and there’s one of those chase scenes I’m not a big fan of near the endpoint. It’s about twenty minutes too long, actually, and seems cobbled together with masking tape around the middle, but I like the sentiments it invokes, and it’s reasonably engaging.