The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan ★★★

👌🏻60%
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The One and Only Ivan is a complete surprise compared to certain other outings we have seen this year on Disney Plus. Artemis Fowl just left the worst taste in my mouth. While it isn’t game-changing, and there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments within the script itself, the mission of this movie is to appeal directly to kids/families. Unlike these other lackluster films, we are not trying to go overboard with the lazy jokes. This film is genuinely trying to go a bit deeper, as we spend time with these animals who are slowly learning that they are meant for something more. It’s a similar feel to a film like Toy Story 3 (where our toys come to the same realization). This film feels even more relatable than expected because we are utilizing cgi to make the animals feel real. The overall vibe could have worked as an animated movie, but I see why they did it. It features those fantastical elements (the animals talk), but it’s so much better than a movie like Dolittle. It’s told through their perspective, but these relationships feel more human than most of the movies we see in the genre.

It takes awhile to find what kind of movie it wants to be, but we finally reach what our mission is about halfway through the run-time. The first half feels overly long, but I can’t heavily criticize due to a bit of effort put into the character development. The voice-work is also great, and Rockwell is perfect for Ivan. Cranston came off as a bit much at first, but I came around on the fact that he is more than just the “ruthless animal owner.” The characters have more than one dimension, and that’s rare to see in a film like this. It’s definitely “Disney-fied,” and that becomes an issue in the third act. We rely on jokes that make certain stakes feel a bit less important, and that final act is so rushed. They just wrapped up certain storylines by highlighting through some integral moments. The reason this works is because of the message. For a “kids film,” there is a lot that we can all learn, and this story gets heavy. I couldn’t believe some of the emotional moments that they nailed. These moments were unexpected but in the best way, and it sets The One and Only Ivan apart as a film that many will grow up loving and appreciating. It never fully recovers from the slow first half, but it’s a good enough time to warrant a watch.

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