Ferdinand – Review

Blue Sky Studios has given audiences the Ice Age saga, Rio, The Peanuts Movie and Robots. Now the studio tackles a short story about a big Bull, with an even bigger heart. Starring the voices of WWE star John Cena, alongside Kate McKinnon, David Tennant and Bobby Cannavale. Ferdinand proves a sweet tale for youngsters but feels too familiar to make an impact with a wider audience.

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In a world where Bull’s dream of fighting a Matador in the ring, young Ferdinand, (Cena) just wants to smell flowers in the meadow. The outsider in his heard, he runs away and finds a home with farmer Juan and his young daughter Nina. Ferdinand grows into the biggest, strongest Bull and his size eventually scares those who do not know him. He is taken away from his family and once again must face the prospect of fighting in the ring. Will he fight or stand his ground?

Based on ‘The Story of Ferdinand’ by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, the film has been expanded from the short story and directed by Carlos Saldanha. The Blue Sky Studios veteran has previously directed both Rio films as well as Ice Age and the Academy Award nominated short, Gone Nutty.

The film starts off strong though elements of the film feel very familiar. The bulls’ wanting to escape their fate feels similar to Chicken Run, including a slaughter house rescue scene. The story is also held back by stock comedy characters.

Ferdinand aims to create as much humour as possible. Although the more subtle jokes and puns hit the right notes, much of the comedy does not. Characters such as Lupe the Goat and the Austrian Horses are overkill. They pad out the film unnecessarily, slowing the pace. Despite the unoriginality of the film, Ferdinand proves to be a likable lead to follow. He is a kind-hearted soul who inspires those around him to be themselves.

In terms of animation, this is more of the same style for Blue Sky. Filled with cute characters and settings,  their work lacks the greater detail and texture of their competitors. Over all the landscape feels flat without the necessary any depth.

John Cena continues his reputation as a gentle giant with his vocal performance. He makes Ferdinand a kind and righteous character that audiences will like. The film is also a tender way to address the controversial subject of Bull Fighting. By giving Bulls a sweet persona, the film questions the moral implications of such a ‘sport’ to a young audience.

A sweet and friendly family tale. The comedy overkill and unoriginality mean the film is more suited to a younger audience. Still Cena makes Ferdinand a lovable lead.


Ferdinand is out in cinemas now! 

The Weekend Binge: The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel

“Girls aren’t funny.”

This was a falsehood that even I believed.

“I just don’t find them as good as the male comics.”

OK, good for you. But you are wrong. You are wrong times a million. The reason you think this is because male comics have been monopolising the mainstream circuit for a long time. With the rise of legends such as French & Saunders, Fey & Poehler, Victoria Wood, Jo Brand, Amy Schumer, and a whole heap more, women are fighting back. Not only are they  bloody hilarious but they are clever, manoeuvring through the comedy circuit and rampant sexism.

Back in the 1950s, it must’ve been harder, with many considered as housewives or singers or gimmicks. Though fictional, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is a look at housewife turned comedian and it is glorious.

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Created by Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel revolves around Miriam (Midge) Maisel. A fast-talking wise-cracking but highly organise dhousewife, she has adored her world in 1950s Manhattan with her husband Joel.  An aspiring comedian, Joel relies on her support as well as her intuition and hard work, keeping her household and social status within the Jewish community moving. However, when Joel announces that he is having an affair, and her parents push the blame on her, Midge winds up drunkenly on the stage of the Gaslight Club and her impromptu ranting turns into one of the funniest sets they’ve ever seen.

Similarly to Gilmore Girls, Mrs. Maisel has snappy and quick-witted dialogue which is its first hook. Gliding through jokes and wry observations, the series plays like a cleverly droll stand-up set where every character gets at least one punchline. This is helped by an emotive story-line that fleshes out the comedy and calamity beneath the words. Infidelity, loneliness, sexism, entertainment, and heritage are strung throughout this film, each with adequate depth yet assured originality. It’s a beautifully structured series that has as much soul as it does sarcasm.

The characters are impossible not to love, especially the quick-fired rapid relationship between Midge and her surly manager Susie played impeccably by Alex Borstein. The pair’s optimism is coupled with Midge’s naivety about her raw talent which allows for some insatiable word play as well as some tender moments. It’s glorious to see.

But even without Borstein (though, yes, you will miss her for every second,) lead star Rachel Brosnahan exceeds all expectations to give us a high-watchable whipper smart lead here. From the moment she breaks out onto screen with a long speech at her wedding, you know you are in for a treat. Inhabiting the fast-paced character, Brosnahan doesn’t miss a bit and interjects a careful warmth that sets her apart from, perhaps, her mother or other defined ladies of the era. Midge is a superb character and you can just drown in her essence as she falls through a freshly single world.

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The aesthetics are beautiful, bringing life the world of 1950s New York in its naturally lush era outfits and impeccably filmed in a colourful manner. The set pieces work with the drama; from the parents apartment to the department store, each excruciating detail is flourished with it’s period setting as well as the characters that inhabit it. Midge is a feminine woman who uses her skills and femininity as her own charge. As she flows through different versions of herself following the break-up, the costuming department clearly are over-joyed to try her in new and daring outfits which work with whatever situation she is in. It’s as beautiful to look at as it is to listen to, combining to craft an impossibly enjoyable TV show.

Sherman-Palladino directs with an astute brilliance. Through the set pieces and the characters, she takes us on a journey with the character but is sure to undercut it with the sorrow of Midge’s life transforming. There’s one particular moment where her lavish apartment becomes a  juxtaposition for both the happy memories as well as the uncertain future. It’s a wonderful episode opening too, undercut by Barbra Streisand’s Happy Days which makes the scenes more cutting. It’s this kinda smarts that gets the show ticking.

You’ll most certainly blaze through The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel but make sure you go back and sample it again at a slower pace. Like a fine wine or a great joke, it only gets better with repeating.


The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is available on Amazon Prime now!