Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/18/21

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Kevin Can F*** Himself (CREDIT: Jojo Whilden/AMC)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Luca (June 18 on Disney+)
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It (Theaters)
The Sparks Brothers (Theaters)

TV
Physical Series Premiere (June 18 on Apple TV+) – Rose Byrne gets into 80s aerobics.
Evil Season 2 Premiere (June 20 on Paramount+)
Kevin Can F*** Himself Series Premiere (June 23 on AMC) – Annie Murphy hates sitcom clichés.
Rick and Morty Season 5 Premiere (June 20 on Adult Swim)
College Bowl Reboot Premiere (June 22 on NBC) – Peyton Manning hosts.
Card Sharks Season Premiere (June 23 on ABC)
Conan Series Finale (June 24 on TBS) – Headed to HBO Max.
The Good Fight Season 5 Premiere (June 24 on Paramount+)
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 6 Premiere (June 24 on Paramount+)
When Nature Calls with Helen Mirren (June 24 on ABC) – Something with animals.

Music
-H.E.R., Back of My Mind

This Is a Movie Review: Ferdinand is Not Your Typical Bull, But ‘Ferdinand’ is Your Typical CG-Animated Kids Movie

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CREDIT: Twentieth Century Fox

This review was originally posted on News Cult in December 2017.

Starring: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, David Tennant, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning, Jerrod Carmichael, Gina Rodriguez, Gabriel Iglesias, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Flula Borg, Boris Kodjoe, Sally Phillips, Lily Day, Juanes, Jeremy Sisto

Director: Carlos Saldanha

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG for Destruction Wrought by a Bull Who Refuses to Accept How Big He Is

Release Date: December 15, 2017

Based on Robert Lawson’s 1936 children’s book The Story of Ferdinand, the Blue Sky animated film Ferdinand is all about one of the most massive bulls in all of Spain. He is a beyond-perfect physical specimen for bullfighting, and in this country it goes without saying that calves spend their youths obsessing about the day they will get to face off against the matadors. But Ferdinand does not have the same pugnacious instinct as his peers. He would much rather spend his days on the farm, sniffing flowers, scarfing down carrots, and just hanging out with the preteen girl who dotes on him. But in a world that sees him as a beast, he must find a way to reconcile his hulking physicality with who he is on the inside.

Ferdinand the film, however, does not stick out from the pack as much as its titular character does. Its message of staying true to yourself is de rigueur in kids’ fare, and the CG animation, while certainly professional, does not pull off any truly lasting images. Thus, it lives and dies on the strength of its voice cast and the laugh-generating power of its gags. John Cena’s giant teddy bear persona is the correct vibe for Ferdinand, while Kate McKinnon is just right as the goat sidekick she’s versatile enough that she probably could have voiced any or all of the characters if the Ferdinand casting crew had been in the mood for that). While everyone else is at least adequate, the only significant standout is David Tennant as a heavily accented Scottish bull. Regarding the chuckles, there is some amusement to be had, as when Ferdinand sucks a caterpillar up his nose and sneezes it out as a butterfly or when the mostly blind owner of a china shop mistakes his tail for a feather duster.

Ferdinand also touches upon the fate of the bulls who are not deemed worthy of the bullfighting ring. I’m talking about the chop shop. This raises the question: are all films about talking animals secretly vegetarian propaganda? And if so, is that always, sometimes, or never intentional? A frequent, nigh-unavoidable trope of this genre is the slaughter that is just around the corner from failure or carelessness. When your lead character is an animal whose meat is favored by carnivores and omnivores, it is only natural to draw sympathy out of the threat of being eaten. Efforts to remain kid-friendly often result in daring escapes from pulverization as moments of triumph, and that is very much the case here. I do not mean to make a moral judgment one way or the other, but instead offer a philosophical pondering: are vegetarians drawn into working in the talking animal film business, or does the talking animal film business make its workers vegetarian?

Ferdinand is Recommended If You Like: Every Talking Animal Movie Ever

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 “Macarena”-Playing Flowerpots