The One and Only Ivan, debuting on Disney+ and adapted from the Newbery Medal award-winning book, tells the story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla. He lives in a small enclosure at a circus attraction in a local mall. Ivan, played by Sam Rockwell, begins to reevaluate his life and future after a new baby elephant arrives and steals the spotlight from the once headlining silverback gorilla. This light-hearted, fun, and heartwarming film is about embracing change and believing in the best of people.
“The One and Only Ivan” delivers its message with incredible humor from a star-studded supporting cast. Danny DeVito is hilarious as “Bob” stray dog. He loves to hang out with the other animals while dogging the circus owner. Unlike the other characters, Bob is free to move around as he pleases. He enjoys a playful banter with Snickers, the posh poodle, played by Helen Mirren. Snickers is used to the good life and is accustomed to the luxury afforded to her as the circus owner’s dog, played by Bryan Cranston. She is Bob’s opposite and they share an amusing love-hate relationship. Rounding out the film are Angelia Jolie as Stella the Elephant (Jolie also served as one of the producers of the film), Brooklyn Prince as the voice of Ruby the baby Elephant, Ramon Rodriguez as George, the mall employee, Ariana Greenblatt as his daughter, Julia, Mike White as Frankie the Seal, and Phillipa Soo as Thelma the Macaw.
The One and Only Ivan also stars two actors with Chicago roots. Legendary singer Chaka Khan plays “Henrietta”, the sassy chicken. Khan related to the character saying, “Henrietta and I are both outspoken and speak our minds. We can cuss you out or nurture you. And I have those traits as well.” Comedian and actor, Ron Funches, plays “Murphy” the fire truck driving rabbit. His character has a “Hakuna Matata” vibe. He likes to go with the flow and prefers to stay comfortable. He is forced to step outside his comfort zone and embrace something new. Actor and Comedian, Ron Funches, who spent his childhood in the Woodlawn area, says the character is much like himself. “He’s a fun-loving, optimistic guy. I definitely related to him. I am very optimistic, and I always try to see the positive in any situation. He’s a fun and light-hearted character, and I loved that”. Like his character, Murphy, Funches also felt forced to change course when the pandemic hit. “It almost like going through grief or any trauma. At some point, you decide I cannot control what is going on out there, but I can control my life and myself. It allowed me to reset and find out what was important. For me, I love doing stand up and connecting with people. That is why I started my twitch channel to communicate with other gamers, my “Gettin Better” podcast, and my Livestream comedy event on YouTube on Sept. 5th. People still need comedy, stress relief, and fun. That is what I love about this movie. It is the perfect film to come together, watch with your family, and hear a great message
The One and Only Ivan combines a mix of live-action and CGI. The film, debuting on Disney+, comes when the world is embracing change amidst uncertainty and recognizing one another’s humanity. While not being too heavy-handed in its message, The One and Only Ivan beautifully delivers the message of hope, humanity, and embracing life’s inevitable twists and turns in such a heartfelt and touching way. The One and Only Ivan makes for a perfect family movie night with a message for everyone.
“The One and Only Ivan” debuts on Disney+ exclusively Aug. 21st.