THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN movie poster
Ivan (the voice of Sam Rockwell), a silverback gorilla, is the main attraction at the Big Top Mall. With a circus-like atmosphere, owner Mack (Bryan Cranston) and his small menagerie of animals entertain a shrinking audience. Looking to boost crowds and stay open, Mack buys baby elephant Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince). Now out of the spotlight, Ivan ponders his past and future. Among those helping him through this new phase of life are aging elephant Stella (the voice of Angelina Jolie), Bob the dog (voiced by Danny DeVito) and Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), the young daughter of mall employee George (Ramon Rodriguez).

CGI talking animals, a cute kid, and ringmaster Bryan Cranston keep things moving along in this entertaining diversion. Based on Katherine Applegate's novel of the same name, the story is a fantasy version of real-life gorilla Ivan - who gained fame for his paintings. Director Thea Sharrock ("Me Before You"), working from Mike White's (who also provides the voice of Frankie the seal) screenplay, aims squarely at the younger set and pretty much hits the target. The result is a comfortable mix of humor and drama. Like the best of Walt Disney, there are dark moments that tug at the heartstrings before things lighten up. Adults will have to settle for a couple of tongue-in-cheek jokes and picking out celebrity voices, like Helen Mirren and Chaka Khan, in the creature cast. The live-action humans, especially Mr. Cranston and youthful Ariana Greenblatt, blend well with some impressive computer-generated effects. At slightly over 90 minutes, time flies by fast. Be sure to watch the credits, where photos of the real Ivan and another scene are presented. As family fun, "The One and Only Ivan" takes center ring. (3.5/5 CAMS)

Rated PG (for mild thematic elements)
Running Time: 94 minutes

Streaming August 21, 2020 on Disney+.

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