The One and Only Ivan is not much different, and when the story is wrapped in Disney-style packaging, the result is a treat for an identity crisis, while entertaining, of course, with a heart.
Indeed, here there are no alien invasions, teenagers trapped in the eagle’s body forever, or depressive conclusions in which the protagonist goes on a suicide mission. The main character is Ivan (Sam Rockwell), a gorilla who is the main star of Mack’s Big Top Mall circus show (Bryan Cranston). If the other animals had to do a trick, Ivan could just show off his savage side, beating his chest while roaring. But gradually, public interest faded. They are threatened with bankruptcy. Top Movie Site
Until Mack brings in a new animal, namely an adorable little elephant named Ruby (Brooklynn Prince). Under the care of Stella (Angelina Jolie) the senior elephant, Ruby immediately became the star of the show. Ivan was forced to accept his stardom marginalized. Until an event forced Ivan to put his ego aside, for the sake of the survival of the animals, especially Ruby.
At first glance it sounds like a children’s film about a talking animal, right? However, as we get to know each character, it becomes clearer that The One and Only Ivan is not that simple. A flashback explains how Mack was abandoned by his wife, because Ivan, who was adopted as a baby, started growing up and often created chaos in the house. Then about Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), the daughter of a Big Top Mall employee, who interacts with Ivan almost every day. It is implied that Julia’s mother is not doing well (possibly contracting cancer).
The background of the cramped cages houses a line of animals that often act funny, like an illusion that obscures the dark reality outside. Speaking of cages, The One and Only Ivann also raised the issue of exploitation of animals, which are hunted in the middle of their habitat by humans. Some died, some were thrown in confinement as material for viewing in circuses and zoos. Best Movie
For humans, the animals are only a means of making money, which can be easily removed. Despite caring for Ivan from infancy, when financial demands came, Mack easily replaced the gorilla as the star of the show. As for the animals in cages, they are used to being locked up for almost their entire life, making them forget the feeling of freedom.
Here there is a contradiction. Mike White’s script (School of Rock, Pitch Perfect 3) talks about the importance for animals to live in their natural habitat, yet simultaneously celebrating showmanship. This was reinforced by the performance of Thea Sharrock (Me Before You), which showed more of a magical side than the exploitative side of each performance. Maybe the goal is not to make it all black and white, but what feels confused about determining the direction, between flicking the issue above, or making an all-age Disney-style film as usual.
In fact, The One and Only Ivan fulfills almost all of the requirements to be a touching animal-themed film. Sharrock is good at building emotions through visual language, as in Stella and Ruby’s first meeting, which is depicted through two touching trunk. The quality of CGI is capable of creating rich expressions on the faces of animal characters, especially Ivan. The orchestral music composed by Craig Armstrong (Moulin Rouge !, The Great Gatsby, Me Before You) is also effective at stirring up feelings, including the ending, which, in effect, is another manifestation of the identity crisis and naivety of his film, which celebrates false independence. Movie Review