“The One and Only Ivan” is the story of a 400-pound silverback gorilla named Ivan, who was captured by poachers in Africa, brought to the US and raised by Mack (played back Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad/Malcolm in the Middle). Ivan shares a communal habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant, Bob the dog, and various other animals, performing daily, to a dwindling crowd.
Mack brings in a baby elephant called Ruby, which changes everything, awakening Ivan’s memories of the past and promising he would allow Ruby to leave free, not stuck in a cage for the rest of her life. This leads Ivan and his friends to hatch a plan to escape, which doesn’t go as well as they’d hope. But obviously it does eventually lead to a happy ending, which you can see a mile away but isn’t any less satisfying when the film gets there.
The movie is based on an award-winning book, which itself is based on a true story, but just given a little more embellishing along the way to make the story more entertaining. The end credits give a little more detail on this, including photographs and videos of Ivan, throughout his life and ultimately in a much bigger enclosure at a zoo. Giving this movie a “perfect” ending. Obviously, while in theory, it would have been nice to have Ivan move back to Africa, but in reality, Ivan wouldn’t have the skills or ability to live openly in the wild, but now living in a huge enclosure is the next best thing, since he could then feel the sun on his skin, the wind in his face and the earth beneath his feet.
The film consists of an all-star cast, with Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Chaka Khan, Mike White, Ron Funches and Phillipa Soo, all providing voices for the animals. The CGI of the characters is impressive, though occasionally it looked a little wonky when they talked, but nothing too noticeable. I thought the pace of the movie was also about right, since the film came in at barely 90 minutes, it moved through the key points quickly and didn’t seem bloated.
“The One and Only Ivan” is a really enjoyable family movie, it has some funny moments, which are provided by a few loveable sidekick characters. The film also has some heartfelt scenes, that brought a tear to my eye on a couple of occasions.
In a world of sequels and reboots, it’s nice to see Disney release something original and they’ve not been focused on these mid-tier movies for a while. Much like with Artemis Fowl, it’s easy to see that the movie had a bigger budget than your usual Disney+ Original. This movie could have easily been released in cinemas as planned, but it is a perfect movie to sit at home on the couch to enjoy in comfort. I really hope we see more of movies like “The One and Only Ivan” come to Disney+ in the future, since its an easy recommendation to anyone to watch.
Rating 4 out of 5