The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan ★★★

Awwww....don't show me a movie full of loveable, anthropomorphically-written animal characters. I'm like a big cat and that's pure catnip. Can't say no.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this film and since it was based on a Newbery Award winning kid's book, be warned, it is geared to kids. However, it's not pure fancy as it is inspired by a true story, In fact, if I might ingratiate myself to you for a moment, I actually "met" the real-life, 400-pound gorilla, Ivan, at Zoo Atlanta back in the 90s. I didn't know his backstory at the time and he was just chillin on a big tree limb, so I had completely forgotten until I researched a little.

Mack (Bryan Cranston) purchases a little shopping mall and sets up a tiny circus with Ivan, an elephant, and some assorted other (delightfully rendered) creatures...and for years entertains shoppers with the schtick. Alas, the mall's popularity eventually wanes and Mack gets desperate to keep the act going.

There are pathos and life lessons and even losses that can never be recouped but the film is not a complete tragedy. Ivan lived out the last 12 years of his life in the sunny and spacious enclosure of Zoo Atlanta. Mack truly loved Ivan but back in the day people just weren't as sensitized to animal rights. So it's a mixture of whimsy (the animals' human-like interactions with each other) and fact-based occurrences. We enjoyed it....and I would show it to my granddaughter.

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