THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Review by Susan Granger

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If you subscribe to Disney+, you have access to this heartwarming, live-action/CGI adventure that’s about friendship, freedom and the power of visualization.

Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell) is a soulful, 400-pound silverback gorilla who lives in a cage as part of a tiny circus in a suburban shopping mall. He shares a communal habitat with Stella (voiced by Angelina Jolie), an aging elephant, and the brusque dog Bob (voiced by Danny DeVito).

Ivan’s best-friend is young Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), daughter of mall employee George (Ramon Rodriguez). When Julia shares some of her broken crayons with Ivan, they discover that Ivan loves to draw and paint – acclaimed as “a primate Picasso.”

Ivan’s fellow ‘performers’ are the pampered poodle Snickers (voiced by Helen Mirren), the outspoken parrot Thelma (voiced by Phillipa Soo), the baseball-playing chicken Henrietta (soul singer Chaka Khan), the juggling seal Frankie (Mike White), and the firetruck-driving rabbit Murphy (Ron Funches).

Much to the chagrin of Ringmaster Mack (Bryan Cranston), business is declining until an adorable baby pachyderm named Ruby (voiced by Brooklyn Prince) arrives, and Ivan considers how to change the constricted confines of their lives.

Based on Katherine Applegate’s Newberry Medal 2012 best-seller, it’s adapted by Mike White and directed by Thea Sharrock with cinematography by Florian Ballhaus. Reminiscent of Charlotte’s Web, it’s family-friendly, filled with a poignant melancholy.

Angelina Jolie recalls her daughter Shiloh read the book and urged her to get involved as one of the producers: “This younger generation is aware of what’s happening in the world to our natural habitats, to these animals – the gorillas, the elephants. As a mother, as an artist, this film is important.”

FYI: The ‘real’ Ivan lived at B&I Amusement Center in Tacoma, Washington, for 27 years, having been raised by humans until he was six. After protests by animal rights activists, he was sent to Zoo Atlanta.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The One and Only Ivan is a sweet 6, a touching, tender tale for tiny tots.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.