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'The One and Only Ivan' Review: The Gorilla With a Heart of Gold

Updated on August 26, 2020

'The One and Only Ivan'

'The One and Only Ivan' is the newest release on Disney+ that brings a lot of heart to a not so original story.

Based on the novel of the same name, written by K.A. Applegate and inspired by a true story. The film revolves around a circus inside a rinky-dink mall. While it looks like a bland experience from the outside, the extravagant show lies within. The show itself is not where the experience is hidden, but with the animals.

Sam Rockwell is the voice behind the silverback gorilla, Ivan, accompanied by Danny DeVito as a homeless dog and Angelina Jolie as an aging elephant.

While a ferocious beast on stage, Ivan is an artistic gorilla with a heart of gold behind the curtains. Show business is all Ivan has known his whole life. Taken from the wild and raised by Mack (Bryan Cranston). After growing too big for a house, Mack opens the circus inside the mall.

Ivan is questioning his self worth as the show is slowly losing the interest of people. He wants to help Mack, as he is his father and is not ready to lose him. All this turns around when Mack brings in the baby elephant, Ruby, to save the show.

From here Ivan vows to escape captivity with Ruby so she doesn't have to grow up in a cage as he did.

What really worked for me in this film is the heart.

'The One and Only Ivan' is directed by Thea Sharrock, who previously directed 'Me Before You'. It is no surprise that this film had those emotional moments. 'Me Before You' is one of those films I have only watched once because I won't admit that I cried like a baby at the end.

Sharrock has a knack for creating emotional moments around the characters that tug on the heartstrings.

There are several characters who have a lot to offer to the emotional weight of the movie.

Bryan Cranston is the "evil man" keeping the animals locked up. However, he is not really a bad guy. He just loves his job and the animals that he doesn't want them to go. Even if he doesn't do it in the right way.

Bob (DeVito) is a dog with no identity. However, he is the best friend of Ivan and loves being around the animals of the circus.

We see all the interactions between these animals and how they help each on this journey. But the relationship between Ivan and Ruby is where the story really takes off.

Ivan is an aged gorilla and Ruby is a baby elephant. They are in different stages of life and Ivan's reluctant desire to help Ruby escape as he rediscovers his past is what drives this story forward.

I had no prior knowledge of Ivan before watching the film. Though the film depicts the animal's sadness to a tee. There is a small window in the ceiling in which the animals look through.

It says in the credits that Ivan did not go outside for 27 years... 27. That is a sad life for an animal to live with no habitation and to be locked in a cold cage.

'The One and Only Ivan' is exactly what I expected from a Disney movie- nothing more, nothing less. It has a lesson learned and a lot of heart even if we've seen it before.

I related to Ivan through his paintings. He uses this as his escape from his life the same way as I do with films. In this aspect, I connected to this film.

It is short enough to sit down and watch without getting bored halfway through. It is straight to the point and delivers on what it wants to deliver on.

Now I don't see 'The One and Only Ivan' becoming a Disney classic one day. However, it has beautiful visuals and incredible CGI with just enough Disney charm to make it an enjoyable watch.

It is what it is.

It is exactly what I have come to expect from Disney. A film that will deliver a story with heart and charm while bringing back nostalgic memories of watching Disney movies as a kid.

'The One and Only Ivan' Trailer

4 stars for 'The One and Only Ivan'

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