Though not perfect, The One and Only Ivan is an accurate retelling of the children’s story


While Ivan the gorilla is believed to be a harsh mammal, he is actually a very sweet-natured creature.

Based on a true story, The One and Only Ivan is a book written by K.A. Applegate and was recently made into a movie by Disney. 

The One and Only Ivan is a children’s story about animal desire for freedom. Circus leader Mack chooses Ivan, a gorilla, to be in his show and stereotypes Ivan to be like every other gorilla: angry, chest-beating and scary. On the contrary, Ivan likes to paint and relax with his own kind. He’s nothing like the gorilla stereotype. Nonetheless, he’s stuck in a cage and befriends his cagemate Bob, a dog and Julia, a stagehand’s daughter. 

The story itself is wonderful. It is able to fascinate the intended audience of children as well as older audiences, such as teens and adults. It perfectly portrays the true story of Ivan and has a deep and compelling aspect to it. The One and Only Ivan shows the pain these animals went through, being trapped and wanting freedom, and how no matter how much people want to tame animals, some of them just stay wild. 

Plus, the personality of each animal enhances the already good storyline. For any comedy lovers, Bob might be their favorite character. Bob was a scruffy, stray dog who was the source of comedy in the show. Stella, the mother elephant, is wise and all-knowing, providing much needed help to Ivan. But, she wasn’t the only elephant in the show. Ruby, who was introduced later in the film, was a charismatic, fun and very curious little elephant.

The only problem people had with this movie was the casting. Skimming past the names on the cast list, two names stand out: Phillippa Soo, the great Eliza Hamilton in the musical Hamilton, plays as one of the animals. But which animal? Her great talent is wasted on Thelma. Forgot who that was? That’s exactly the problem. Thelma was a background animal, the parrot, who didn’t do much in the story. The fact that her talent was used on a character no one would remember is a huge deal. But she wasn’t the only strange cast choice. If you’ve ever seen Maleficent, you’d think Angelina Jolie would be a scary choice to use in a child’s movie. Especially if she was used as a role everyone thought of as the loving caretaker and mother figure, Stella. A much different role than Maleficent.

Overall, the movie was amazing. It was fun to watch, even though there were some weird cast choices, but they didn’t take away from the storyline. It was enjoyable to watch and the lessons and themes were clear throughout the movie. I would rate this movie a 4/5.