“One and Only Ivan” Review: Another Lovable Disney Character That Encourages Empathy & Keeps His Promises

by Sarah Ruhlman
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Disney+ has struck gold with this new film. The streaming service will release “One and Only Ivan” on August 21st and we can promise you, it’s a real gem. So cuddle up with your family or your favorite blanket and get ready to go on the emotional rollercoaster that is every Disney movie ever. This new crew of talking animals are sure to become some of your new best friends. And just like every good children’s movie, it might teach you a thing or two along the way.

Stella (voiced by Angelina Jolie) and Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ivan’s Book To Movie Adaptation

Katherine Applegate’s Children’s Novel

This new Disney movie is based on a novel by Katherine Applegate that came out in 2012. The fictional children’s book, just like its film adaptation, is told from Ivan’s perspective. Getting to experience first person narration from a silverback gorilla who lives in a mall definitely makes for a fun and enlightening film.

Applegate’s beloved book has found its way into the homes and hearts of readers around the world, making it an obvious winner of the John Newbery Medal in 2013. The successful author has made it known how excited she is for children and adults to see this film. According to

Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell) and Bryan Cranston as Mack in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Genre/Rating

Similar to other Disney movies, “One and Only Ivan” can be categorized as a number of genres. Animation, Adventure, fantasy, comedy, drama are all suitable descriptions of the live-action/animated film. This movie has it all and it’s perfect for any family. Our favorite Disney characters make us laugh while teaching us a lesson about how to be kinder to others and a better version of ourselves. Ivan, Bob, Ruby, Stella and Julia do just that and you’re guaranteed to enjoy every minute.

“One and Only Ivan” is rated PG making itself understandable to kids of all ages, but best watched alongside parents who can enjoy it too.

Snickers (voiced by Helen Mirren) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lessons Learned

Nobody Is Built For Isolation

This is a message that doesn’t take convincing. After the past few months, everybody can agree that humans and animals alike are not meant to be isolated from one another. Ivan and his friends make the most of their time in the mall, but after seeing the majestic animals in a not-so-natural habit, you start to wonder if that’s what’s best. Sometimes it takes an advocate, big or small, young or old, to speak up for someone else. If it’s possible and it’s safe, go hug a loved one after watching this film- we know you’ll want to.

Keep Your Promises

One of the most important characteristics of a friend is trustworthiness. That’s a fact of life that is never too soon for a child to learn and never to late for an adult to remember. Being a good friend means making promises you plan to keep and seeing them through. Disney+’s “One and Only Ivan” definitely spreads this message. This theme from the movie was a personal favorite of Brooklyn Prince, who voices Ruby in the film.

Murphy (voiced by Ron Funches) and Henrietta (voiced by Chaka Khan) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Critic/Fan Responses

Since the new movie doesn’t premiere on Disney’s streaming service until Friday, August 21st, we eagerly anticipate the reaction of Disney fans everywhere. If there’s a group of people who are sure to adore this film, it’s Disney fanatics. Perhaps those who are most excited about the films release are those who have been longtime fans of Applegate’s book who already love the characters they are going to see brought to life. Disney has a knack for creating a gorgeous spectacle of real humans and talking animals, making them the perfect people to adapt the novel.

Bob the dog (voiced by Danny DeVito) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Do You Recognize Those Voices?

Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny Devito, Helen Mirren, and Chaka Khan are just some of the big-time actors who were a part of this film. Their voices fit these characters perfectly and you’re bound to recognize them while you watch.

Bryan Cranston as Mack, Stella (voiced by Angelina Jolie), and Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“One and Only Ivan” Has A Couple Of Talented & Adorable Newcomers

Ariana Greenblatt, who plays the adorable Julia in the movie has a heart of gold and steals the show with her talent. Though Ivan is the protagonist and the character who guides us through the film with his narration, it could be argued that Julia is the heroine of the film. She’s brave enough to speak up for what is right, making her an incredible role model for children consuming media.

Brooklyn Prince, who voices Ruby, the mall’s newest addition to the animal crew, is perfect for the role. Ruby is curious, fun-loving, and wise beyond her years. She annoys Ivan until she goes from being under his skin to wedging a place in his heart. The young actress became fast friends with Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie while recording their voices together.

Ariana Greenblatt as Julia in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

My thoughts:

“One and Only Ivan” is the perfect addition to Disney+’s catalogue of films that they are building on the streaming service. These sweet, wacky and wide animals fit right in with all the other iconic Disney characters we know and love. The messages introduced in the film by adults, animals and kids alike are timeless and always need to be discussed. However, many of these messages are imperative to today’s world and will start important conversations about empathy and friendship within the home. It’s heartfelt and lighthearted at the same time. It’s one of those feel-good movies that will point out flaws in humanity while reminding you that people can be so good.

You’ll laugh at Bob and wish you could cuddle up with Ivan. You’ll probably wish you could be friends with them all, and you might come out of it being a better friend to those around you.

Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“One and Only Ivan” premieres on Disney+ this Friday, August 21st and you do not want to miss it! I guess I know what your family is doing this weekend!

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