The One and Only Ivan (2020) A Review

Movie made of CGi animals can be a little hit or miss. This is just pure Disney Fluff, nothing you wouldn’t expect really.

Certificate: PG

Director: Thea Sharrock

Screenwriter: Mike White (screenplay by), Katherine Applegate (book)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Phillipa Soo, Chaka Khan

Genre: Animation, Adventure

Runtime: 95 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Ivan the gorilla is the main headliner at a small, failing circus.  He is perfectly happy with his life, until a new animal arrives in the circus.  A baby elephant named Ruby, a publicity stunt to try and drum up more interest in the show.  When the circus’ resident older elephant dies, she makes Ivan promise to save Ruby from a lifetime of captivity and to make sure that she returns to the wild.  This sets Ivan on a mission to free himself and his animal friends from the confines of the circus, so they can return to their real homes.

Is It me, or the more films I watch about circuses, the more I begin to hate circuses.  They are always portrayed as exploitative and awful places, with the owner/ringmaster/manager, being a terrible and unfeeling man, usually with a twirling moustache.  And While The One and Only Ivan, being made by Disney, avoids some of the darker material, and skips giving Bryan Cranston a moustache, the same awful exploitative atmosphere still surrounds this show too.  It’s Disney, so you know you are pretty much guaranteed a happy ending, but there are some darker moments there on the way to achieving it.

There are very few human actors here, Three main ones really, and considering for the most part they were interacting with nothing, as all the animals are CGI, their performances are pretty good.  But the real stars of the show, and the real drivers of the plot are the animals themselves.  If you have seen recent live action adaption like ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘The Lion King’ then it will come as no surprise to you that the animation they use here is amazing.  Disney have the technology there and they are not shy about using it.  It missed the mark for me in ‘Call of the Wild’ with the animation looking a little too cartoony.  But it hits the nail on the head here, these animals look spectacular.

And with a cast as stacked as this one, there is no way any of the voice performances could be a let down. To me the real star was Danny DeVito as the little dog Bob. It was a great casting choice and he just exuded energy the whole time.

This is a great heart warming story for the whole family.  It is full of that classic Disney fluff that adults and children can enjoy in equal measure.  It isn’t anything astounding plot wise.  Canny adults among you will see the whole thig laid out before you almost from the very beginning, but it is fun to watch none the less.

The One and Only Ivan is free to stream on Disney+ Now

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s