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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended under 7 due to violence and scary scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ferdinand
  • a review of Ferdinand completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 December 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 7 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 7 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Ferdinand
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild themes and coarse language
Length: 106 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ferdinand (voiced by Colin H. Murphy and John Cena) is different from all the other bulls at Casa del Toros, a premier ranch where matadors come from all over Spain to select the bulls they will fight in the ring. Valiente (Jack Gore and Bobby Cannavale), Guapo (Jet Jurgensmeyer and Peyton Manning) and Bones (Nile Diaz and Anthony Anderson) all push, shove and fight each other constantly, trying to toughen up as they prepare to impress the boss and their fathers. Ferdinand, however, refuses to fight. He is friendly, compassionate and caring. He loves flowers and cares for and protects the one flower that grows in the bull pen.

When Ferdinand’s father is chosen to fight, he tells his son that he will be back and that then he will show him the secrets to being a fabulous fighter. But Ferdinand doesn’t want to fight and his father never comes back. In horror and sadness, Ferdinand runs away and finds himself on a train that takes him to another part of Spain. There he is found by a friendly farmer who takes him home to his young daughter Nina (Julia Saldanha and Lily Day).

Nina showers the terrified Ferdinand with love and slowly he becomes part of her family. He grows up on their farm surrounded by flowers and friends and is happier than he has ever been. However, after being stung by a bee at a flower festival, Ferdinand inadvertently trashes the town and is captured and returned to the Casa del Toros.

His size is beyond anything the men there have ever seen, but Ferdinand still refuses to fight. When he decides to escape with the help of his new friend Lupe (Kate McKinnon), he learns the truth: that no bull ever wins and he sacrifices himself to save the others.

In the ring Ferdinand is finally able to answer the question that he asked his father so long ago: “Is it possible to be a champion without having to fight?”


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Cruelty to animals, particularly during bullfights; sending bulls to the slaughterhouse when they do not perform as expected

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent violence in this movie including:

  • The bulls constantly push and shove and try to fight one another to prove who is tougher.
  • Valiente purposefully crushes the flower than Ferdinand cares for as a way of punishing him for his father being chosen by the matador.
  • Ferdinand accidentally trashes a small town due to his large size and his inability to stop knocking things over or breaking them.
  • Ferdinand is captured, tied with ropes and forced into the back of a truck while Nina tries to tell everyone that he is not dangerous.
  • The ranch hands poke Ferdinand with long sticks to get him into the pen.
  • Three little hedgehogs use their quills like spears and throw them at other animals.
  • Three horses in an adjoining pen often insult the bulls and fight each other with their hooves. They wind up in a tangled mess
  • There are images of matadors about to stab bulls and a huge wall lined with bull horns.
  • Cars get smashed as the animals escape the ranch in a truck.
  • Ferdinand is finally captured while helping his friends escape. He is forced to the ground by numerous ropes and is carted off to the bullfight.
  • Ferdinand sends the matador flying through the bullring.
  • The matador slashes Ferdinand and threatens him with spears.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Ferdinand’s father never comes back and Ferdinand realizes that he has been killed. In shock and horror he runs away. He is pursued by men from the ranch and just manages to escape on a passing train. He wanders the countryside in the dark and in the rain until he falls down a steep incline where he is rescued by a farmer. The music is loud and intense and adds to the drama of the scene.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Guapo is sent off to be slaughtered after he loses a fight. All the bulls think that he has been killed. Ferdinand later saves him.
  • Valiente is also sent to the slaughterhouse when one of his horns breaks off. Ferdinand helps him escape as well.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Lupe looks Ferdinand up and down when they first meet and comments on his “flanks” in a suggestive manner.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

Insults and name-calling are heard throughout, including:

  • “What a wimp”; “Wierdo”;  “Puny bag of bones” ; “Loser”;  “Flower boy”;  “Dork”; “You suck”

In a nutshell

Ferdinand is an animated adventure about staying true to yourself no matter what comes your way and using your own light to inspire and lead others. While aimed at young audiences, there is a simple truth in this movie’s message that will touch the hearts of all who see it. Although the film has a G rating, children under seven may scared by some scenes, so parental guidance is recommended for this age group.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • kindness and compassion for all living things
  • fighting does not make you strong and you do not need to fight in order to win
  • forgiveness and courage.

Parents may also wish to discuss

  • The fact that bull fighting still exists as a celebrated sport in some parts of the world and the animal rights issues surrounding this.
  • The fact that many animals, not just bulls, are simply sent off to be slaughtered when they have outlived their ‘usefulness’.
  • Bullying and the negative and hurtful effects that can come as a result of this. Ferdinand is an excellent example of how to overcome hostility and taunting by choosing to respond with kindness and humour.