The One and Only Ivan, based on Katherine Applegate’s bestselling book, is a beautiful and inspiring story of freedom and friendship streaming Disney Plus. Is The One and Only Ivan kid friendly? Though heavy subject matter may be hard for young children, The One and Only Ivan is appropriate for most kids. This is one CGI animal movie that did not bug me, unlike others. Sorry Dolittle and The Lion King.
Is The One and Only Ivan Ok for Kids?
Ivan (Sam Rockwell), a silverback gorilla, is the headliner of a local circus act performing at Big Top Mall. Ivan used to be known for a ferocious roar while beating his chest for years, but now the crowds are dwindling. It was all an act, Ivan reveals. Ringleader Mack (Bryan Cranston) is losing money and needs a new star. He finds Ruby (Brooklynn Prince), a baby elephant, who will hopefully bring in more customers with her sweet demeanor.
Ivan’s not so sure about Ruby. He’s used to being the headliner. But older and wise elephant Stella (Angelina Jolie) takes Ruby under her wing and makes Ivan promise an almost impossible request.
More of the star-studded The One and Only Ivan cast includes caretaker George (Ramon Rodriguez) and his daughter Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), who wants to help Ivan and the other animals live their best lives.
Most of my daughters read the book in 4th grade, and you don’t need to have read the book to understand the movie. The film is similar to the book, but does a good job of adding more plot for younger viewers. However, it is lacking a true villain.
Rated PG, The One and Only Ivan is ok for kids ages 6 and up. Younger children may enjoy the movie, too, but may find it slow-moving. Empathetic children who love animals may find some scenes hard to watch.
There is no inappropriate language.
Some kids may be frightened when Ivan gets mad. Also, there is a death which may be sad for children. My 7-year-old didn’t cry, but she was plotting her rescue of all the zoo animals, so some of the content can be confusing to young children.
Ruby was separated from her family in the wild, which cause Ivan to to question the life he’s lived for the past 20 something years, where he comes from, and where he ultimately wants to be.
What I love about Ivan is that there’s no flashy anything. The CGI is not over the top. It’s a beautiful story with the right amount of humor to break up the heaviness of some of the scenes. The One and Only Ivan teaches that it’s never too late to be who you are. The actors do a fantastic job of portraying how valuable friendship is and even in times of trials, we can find joy and ultimately overcome them.
Perhaps it’s the simplicity that made me appreciate The One and Only Ivan. No gimmicks or smoke shows. The character development can be lacking, but the heart and vulnerability make up for it.
While one could say Mack is the villain, he really isn’t as he’s trying his best to do what he thinks is right. You have to be patient to get to the connection between these animals and the audience, but it’s the little things – gestures, movements, dialogue – that cause the biggest emotions.
The One and Only Ivan is on Disney Plus on August 21st!
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
Rated PG, 93 minutes
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Brooklynn Prince, Ariana Greenblatt, Ramon Rodriguez, Phillipa Soo, Chaka Khan, Helen Mirren, Ron Funches