7/10 Kids movies outside of Pixar and more specifically live action/CGI hybrids with animals are usually strictly for kids and have nothing to offer adults. Just recently “Dolittle” (which meets that criteria) came out and was one of the worst movies of 2020. So I can’t say I was super excited to watch this but due to it being nominated for Best Visual Effects and me watching every Oscar nominated film, I decided to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised at how much better this was than I was expecting and it turned out to be a good movie. In regards to those special effects for which the film is recognized for, the CGI animals do look amazing in this film. I thought back to the last notable film with a lot of CGI animals and how they looked and I thought of “Noah”. “Noah” was released in 2014 and seven years later, the visual effects with animals and lighting have come incredibly far in a rather short amount of time. The real reason this film works though isn’t because of the visuals or the pleasant score but due to the heart. At the beginning the film tells you it is based on a true story but if you’re like me you get caught up in what’s happening and forget half an hour later that this stuff actually happened (minus animals talking in celebrity voices of course and in the English language). I watched the movie through the lens of it just being a film for kids but the film wisely gives a lot of information with actual photos and stock footage at the end of the real Ivan. Ivan was a real gorilla who would draw/paint and worked in a small circus inside of a mall for most of his life. The film has a lot of strong emotion and although I’m sure some things were changed for dramatization, the overall story is a fascinating one. Bryan Cranston is the human anchor and his bond with the animals comes through well. Ariana Greenblatt, who was in two of the five films up for Best Visual Effects (the other being “Love and Monsters”) also brings heart to the film and is very talented for her young age. The emotional strength paired with the fact that this is based on a true story is what won me over. As for what didn’t work, there were a couple problems. As talented an actor and voice actor as Sam Rockwell is, I felt he was miscast as Ivan. His voice just didn’t seem to ever suit a giant silverback gorilla like the other voice actors did with their roles. Rockwell did a great job but it should have been someone else’s voice for Ivan. There are some cheesy jokes and potty humor aimed at kids but that completely falls flat for adults. There are some mild cheesy and cliché moments that are standard in most movies aimed at younger audiences but luckily nothing too egregious. That being said, with the perfect pacing that never overstays its running time, gorgeous visuals and some real heart with a strong message for kids, “The One and Only Ivan”, like a painting gorilla…just might surprise you.
#BasedOnAZooStory / #StElephant / #IvanTheUncomparable / #FreeKong / #IvantToMuckYourMud / #TrotterForElephants

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