You guys! So you remember how excited I was to find out Ferdinand was being made into a movie? Well, the Little Man and I had a date to see Ferdinand last week and after a false start with a sold-out showing and calming down a pissed off child with an ice-skating adventure, we finally got to see my childhood fav up on the big screen.
Whenever a favorite book gets turned into a movie, there’s a huge chance the director will take beloved characters and plotlines and turn them on their head (HP, Twilight, I’m talking to you). There’s also the chance the director will take the book and magically transform everything in your imagination directly onto the big screen. Wimpy Elijah Wood as Frodo aside, Lord of the Rings was fantastic for this. While it’s easy to see how they can turn chapter and series books into movies, it’s a bit harder to see how a director will stay true to a story from a children’s book that’s less than 20 pages, so I was very interested to see what they’d do with Ferdinand.
Let’s start this book-to-movie review with John Cena. Despite his tough guy appeal, wrestling fame and action flicks, John Cena has always come across as the love-able meat-head, just like Ferdinand. Celebrity crushes aside, he was absolutely, hands down, the BEST choice to voice Ferdinand.
Like the book, Ferdinand-the-movie, was based in Spain, told the tale of a gentle, flower-loving bull, involved a bee and a bull ring. And that’s about where the similarities end. Ferdinand-the-book is a sparse gentle tale that allows the reader to infer and imagine many things about Ferdinand, his mother, his home and his life. So much so, that the book became controversial in its interpretations.
Ferdinand-the-movie, on the other hand, is a coming of age tale whose message of self-acceptance cannot be disputed or misinterpreted. The movie places Ferdinand, the gentle flower loving calf, smack dab in the middle of a bull fighting farm with his father, where he is surrounded by bulls and calves determined to fight their way into the bullring. Like the book-Ferdinand, the movie-Ferdinand is a misfit who prefers flowers to fighting, earning him the ire of the other baby bulls.
From here, the film races forward with action and adventure not found in the book, with Ferdinand eventually finding himself squaring off with El Primero, the number one matador in Spain. Despite all of the deviations from the original tale and the addition of a weird annoying sidekick, for me, seeing Ferdinand staring into the eyes of El Primero is where Ferdinand-the-movie shows a true understanding of the character Munro Leaf created.
While I won’t be re-watching Ferdinand endlessly until the DVD just gives up like I did with Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Ferdinand-the-movie was a fun afternoon adventure with my kid. I’d def recommend it if your family, like ours, enjoys reading books and watching the movies based on those books.
Until next time, happy reading!