Ferdinand – Gentle bull, Ferdinand, isn’t interested in bullfighting like the rest of his peers at the Casa del Toro ranch. After his proud father doesn’t return from the ring, grief makes Ferdinand flee to a safe haven. Many years after finding an idyllic life, a misunderstanding with the local townspeople takes Ferdinand back to the ranch and he is reunited with his old friends (and rivals – as well as a few new faces). Ferdinand’s impressive size makes him the favourite for the next fight (whether he wants to or not) but any attempt not to go there may take him to an even worse fate.

Ferdinand (2017) – Director: Carlos Saldanha

Is Ferdinand appropriat for kids?

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53621856

Rating: U

Running Length: 108 mins

Starring: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale

Genre: Animated, Comedy


Based on ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, ‘Ferdinand’ introduces us to the world of bullfighting from the bull’s point of view. Our titular hero, Ferdinand, is unlike all the other bulls. He enjoys simple pleasures rather than craving the glory of the ring. He loves to see and smell beautiful flowers so finding himself at the home of Nina and her kind father is a dream come true and he stays there until he is fully grown. But after amusing shenanigans followed by an emotional separation, he is taken back to the dreaded ranch and Ferdinand’s options once again become limited.

While the movie attempts to show bullfighting in a negative light, it clearly wants to stop short of offending those in Spain who are very protective of their historical blood sport. Ferdinand is the only bull who questions the propaganda that the others believe and, knowing that they could be going to their doom, doesn’t put them off the idea of fighting until they realise that there is no chance of survival, no matter the prowess of the bull. As a story about the victims of a cruel sport that is controversial worldwide, little is actually done in the movie to be thought-provoking enough to enact any form of change, which begs the question: why bring up this potentially upsetting subject matter in a kid’s movie? Questionable setting aside, as a character piece the movie finds more strength. Having a pacifist character up front who – when repeatedly insulted as a coward – acts with confusion and questions why not wanting to fight should equal cowardice, is a refreshing change from the usual one-upmanship tubthumping.

‘Ferdinand’ has plenty of comedy and characters to root for but there are many dark scenes that dampen the brightly coloured animation and with bulls in the real world suffering the same fate that face those in the movie, perhaps this story needed a stronger message to make tackling such a subject matter worthwhile at all.


Towards the beginning of the movie, an idealised bull-fight is seen where the matador holds spears in his hands and goes to stab the bull but is stopped by his clearly superior opponent. The spears are then thrown towards a man who pin him up against a wall by his clothes.

As a calf, Ferdinand refuses to fight the more aggressive Valiente, he tells him that he can hit him if he likes but he isn’t going to fight. Another bull asks ‘You’re gonna let him smack ya?’. As Valiente is determined to hurt the gentle Ferdinand, kids could be upset but this, however the fight is averted so this does not go into violent territory.

Ferdinand’s dad is proud to be taken away to a bullfight but when the cart returns empty, Ferdinand realises the fate that has befallen his father and is devastated, running away from the ranch. During this scene, Ferdinand is seen walking alone in the dark and rain, clearly upset and lost for around a minute.

After a few years of peace and happiness, Ferdinand find himself captured once again and forced into a cart, as he struggles against his captors, he is prodded hard with a club which hurts him and makes him enter the cart. When the cart drives off, the little girl who has been taking care of Ferdinand (Nina) runs after it, desperately trying to reach her beloved bull however she is unable to and has to watch as he is taken away from her. This scene lasts around 10 minutes and other than the ‘China Shop’ sequence, there is very little comic relief and, as it culminates in a deeply upsetting forced separation and as Ferdinand is driven far away, it is clear that he will not get back to Nina easily.

A bull is happy and excited to be taken away in a cart, believing that he will be the next bullfighter, however when the door to the cart is closed, there is a picture of the outline of a bull with lines along its body, indicating that it is on its way to an abattoir. The bull in the cart doesn’t realise what is happening but the crestfallen faces of the others show that he is not going to a good place. The cart drives to a nearby opposing building; a character is later seen crying for his friend.

When realising that bulls will never win during a bullfight, Fernando comes across a wall which has many horns hanging up and it is made clear that these are the horns of the bulls who have been killed. He tells the others ‘It’s just another chop house!’ Later, when a bull is chosen to fight, another says that he will get ‘a saw through his melon’.

Ferdinand goes to the abattoir to help a character escape and while he is there, some of the imagery is of the machinery which may be a little scary for some kids who understand what it is for, however this scene does not get overly frightening.

In a scene which could be imitable, some characters hide beneath a train platform, others squeeze between the platform and the train to join them and they all walk around the train tracks without concern.

During the bullfight, Ferdinand refuses to fight and backs away from the matador, he is then surrounded by men on horses who hold spears at him, he becomes distressed and struggles to get away from them.


‘Ferdinand’ is colourful and has plenty of good comedy, however the unpleasant subject matter may be too much for a lot of kids. Despite this being rated a ‘U’ in the UK (which means suitable for all ages), we feel that ‘Ferdinand’ is appropriate for kids aged 5 and over and we recommend a parental presence in order to reassure, comfort or explain some of the darker moments.

  • Violence: 1/5 (very little in actual physical violence, however there are several moments where a matador is seen to hold a long, thin sword over a bull, the implication of bulls who can’t fight being taken to an abattoir could be upsetting. A cat is surprised when looking out of a window and, in shock, flies at an iron grate, slamming against it)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (some long scenes of Ferdinand and other characters being in peril or taken away from loved ones. A character is convinced he will be taken to the abattoir saying ‘I’m a dead bull walking!’)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (a bull calls a horse ‘gluestick’, a moderate British curse word is used and one mild instance of blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (implied deaths and characters being excited to face death)
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of bullfighting, animals being used as a commodity, personality types not being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, accepting those who are different to you, bullying, helping others even if it could negatively affect you and fighting to live the life you want.

Words by Laura Record

Ferdinand Book and Toy Set

New From: £13.11 GBP In Stock

Related Posts

Share this review!Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Tumblr0Pin on Pinterest0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Digg thisEmail this to someone