Review by Dan Skip Allen
The One and Only Ivan is based on the true story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who was rescued from the jungles of Africa and brought to live in Tacoma, Washington. He performed for a big top that was located in a mall and learned how to paint while there. After protesters learned of him they forced the hand of the owner to release him back into a conducive environment for animals like him. He was moved to the Atlanta Zoo where he lives today. This story was adapted into a book of the same name by author Katherine Applegate, who also wrote the script for the movie with Mike White from Survivor fame.
Ivan (Sam Rockwell) is living out his days in a small mall circus with some other animals: a couple of dogs named Bob and Snickers (Danny Devito and Helen Mirren), and two elephants named Stella and Ruby, (Angelina Jolie and Brooklyn Prince), as well as a parrot, a seal, a bunny and a chicken. Mack (Bryan Cranston) runs this little operation. He is struggling to keep it afloat. With the help of his trusty employee, George (Ramon Rodriguez) and his daughter, Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), they try to come up with different things to attract customers to their fledgling circus.
Disney has cornered the market on feel-good old-school family films, adapting a lot of their own animated films in the process. Known for her 2016 film Me Before You, director Thea Sharrock definitely knows how to pull at the heartstrings. The One and Only Ivan has a lot going for it. The obvious is a bunch of talking animals, which, while not always entertaining, works well in this case. It's based on a true story. That is always a plus. The main thing this film has going for it is, though, it is a heartfelt tale with some funny one-liners that the whole family can enjoy.
This film was thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It had its twist and turns but came to a satisfying conclusion in the end. The voice cast and human cast all did a wonderful job. At times, it can be easy to forget that they weren't real animals because the CGI was so spot on. The script was well adapted by Mike White and Katherine Applegate. This film is a must-see for anybody looking for good family entertainment. People of all ages should enjoy this fun heartfelt film. It's the best movie with talking animals this year.
The One and Only Ivan is now streaming on Disney+.