Disney's The One and Only Ivan Movie Review and Free Activity Guide

The One and Only Ivan - Photo Courtesy of Disney+


What happens when you mix talking animals, an all-star cast, and a beautiful story together?  You end up with The One and Only Ivan - now streaming on Disney+.  Some of you may be familiar with this story from the novel by Katherine Applegate which was inspired by a true story.  Not having read the story before, I wasn't quite sure what was coming in the film.  I was pleased to find another heartwarming tale brought to life by Walt Disney Studios and given to families to enjoy through the Disney+ platform.


Missed my trailer reaction to The One and Only Ivan? Find it here!


The One and Only Ivan Movie Review


Meet Ivan.  Ivan has been with his human Mack for most of his life working in a circus - entertaining people day in and day out.  And while life isn't all bad - he's got good animal friends, protection, and a human who loves him, he has always been longing for something more.  Following the death of one of his co-performers in the circus, Ivan is committed to following through on a promise that the youngest star at the circus, a baby elephant named Ruby, will find her freedom.  Ivan pulls on an old passion out of his memory - painting - and uses his artistic skills to show what's truly in his heart.

At first glance, The One and Only Ivan may appear as a movie that's been done before - talking animals in a circus yearning for more.  But the heart of the story lies in the relationships highlighted throughout the film.  Animal to human, human to human, animal to animal - there are so many nuances to each of them.  Ivan feels the tug of loyalty and love towards Mack, the owner of the circus played by Bryan Cranston, and the same tug to his past and the young elephant Ruby.  At the same time, the power of love and friendship young Julia shows Ivan demonstrates how we can all become what we are destined to be when we believe in ourselves.  

"Change is scary for all of us.  Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, Ruby.  Trust that kindness will always be there when you need it." ~ Ivan

A little predictable - yes - but the magical way this story comes to life for audiences is well worth the watch.  And on a scale of one to Toy Story 3, I'll say I shed my fair share of tears at the end of the film.  This is a gem for subscribers to Disney+ and one that I'll come back to watch again and again.



The One and Only Ivan Activity Guide


What can make this movie even better?  Check out this free activity guide!  Kids and adults will enjoy learning more about gorillas like Ivan while also completing some fun activities together.  Add some popcorn, candy, and your favorite beverages to turn this into a movie night to remember - all from the comfort of your own couch!


About The One and Only Ivan (From Disney+)


An adaptation of the award-winning book about one very special gorilla, Disney’s “The One and Only Ivan” is an unforgettable tale about the beauty of friendship, the power of visualization and the significance of the place one calls home. Ivan is a 400-pound silverback gorilla who shares a communal habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant, Bob the dog, and various other animals. He has few memories of the jungle where he was captured, but when a baby elephant named Ruby arrives, it touches something deep within him. Ruby is recently separated from her family in the wild, which causes him to question his life, where he comes from and where he ultimately wants to be. The heartwarming adventure, which comes to the screen in an impressive hybrid of live-action and CGI, is based on Katherine Applegate’s bestselling book, which won numerous awards upon its publication in 2013, including the Newbery Medal.