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Ferdinand: A Lesson in Kindness, Inclusion, and Being Yourself

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Amid the roar of violent action flicks, Ferdinand is a welcome breath of fresh air. Well, as fresh as it can get around a herd of bulls. This sweet family movie celebrates kindness and friendship. As the parent of a child who is labeled as “different”, I applaud any movie that encourages inclusion, acceptance, and standing up for each other. Am I right?

Rainy weekends, snow days, PD days… my kids and I are at the theatre. We’ve seen a lot of children’s movies and I’m happy to say that Ferdinand is an absolute gem. It’s no surprise it was nominated for an Oscar, and that’s no bull.

Ferdinand is now available on DVD, 4K, Blu-ray and Digital Download so we’ll be adding this soon to be classic to our family flick collection.

In this beautifully animated movie based on the 1936 children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand, the harsh reality of being different isn’t at all sugar coated. Ferdinand (played by John Cena) is relentlessly taunted by the other bulls on his farm. They literally put the bull in bully. It was emotional for me to watch. Curse you too-true-to-life cinema!

Ferdinand was born to be a fighting bull. The trouble is, he’s a lover not a fighter. He’s flowers and friendship, not flaring nostrils. He’s a sensitive pacifist in a world where insecurity, aggression, comparison, and competition are the norm.

In the beginning he tries to fit in to please his father, and then just survive. But when he makes his first friend—another odd duck, in the form of a goat, he begins to find the strength to break free. The support of one true friend, his “calming goat” Lupe, is enough to set him on the path to freedom.

The clever plot touches on topics like traditional gender roles, stereotyping, and segregation. Take the fence between the well-to-do horses (who are hilarious by the way) and the working class bulls. It reminds me of a certain wall. Yes, that wall. I don’t know if that was the writer’s intent, but the point was made—there are those with privilege and those without. But there is a kindness army forming. Its numbers are growing and movies like Ferdinand add support to this beautiful uprising.

Ferdinand is appropriate for ages 6+, but there are a few scenes that younger or highly-sensitive kiddos might find upsetting. When Ferdinand and his friends staged a rescue mission in a slaughterhouse, my vegetarian son turned to me with one eyebrow raised as if to say, “See? Carnivore savages.” I’m happy to report that no bull burgers were consumed during this movie.

My soft-hearted daughter had questions about the teasing, the tears (one of the bull daddies never returned from a bull fight) and the torture (I mean, have you seen a bullfight? It’s barbaric.). However, the sensitive topics proved to be significant talking points after the fact.

In the end, Ferdinand learns that love and kindness can outshine the darkness. His friend Nina (a strong female protagonist I might add) shows him that. “Is this love?” he asks her. “I love love,” he declares.

We love love too, Ferdinand. And we sure love you.

Ferdinand’s message of kindness has inspired families to make “Kindness Rocks”— an activity where you paint rocks with kind, inspirational messages, and scatter them around your community. They can be left on trails, in parks, in the playground—anywhere you think someone could use a little kindness in their day.

We made kindness rocks for our garden for friends to find when they visit. And we made some to leave as a secret surprise for a friend who needs a little extra kindness and love right now.

Many of our SavvyMom families are spreading kindness around their communities too. Take a look at their kindness rocks here:

ParentClub

Pickle Planet Moncton

Calgary Playground Review

Just Another Edmonton Mommy

This post is brought to you Ferdinand on DVD but the opinions are our own.

 

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