Disney’s treatment and roll out of its with subscription exclusives (outside of Hamilton) has become a running theme of these reviews. Here comes another one. This time its arrival on streaming it’s directly as a result of the pandemic with it being pencilled in as a full theatrical release until relatively late in the day. A heavily fictionalized true story about an artistic griller with Bryan Cranston as the the live action circus master and a star packed voice cast for the animals (Sam Rockwell ,Danny DeVito ,Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren among others.)How does it fare in comparison to Disney’s other theatrical cast offs.
While the film may be aimed squarely at incredibly young children it’s far better than it has any right to be. This is not to say it is great. There is a distinct formula to this genre of children’s animal movie that anyone old enough to be outside the target demographic will notice immediately. Mike Whites screenplay well it might not be above the occasional fart joke or dash of toilet humour has a gentle charm and wit that it is impossible not to get swept up in. This material is much closer to the person that wrote School of Rock then the hack who has credits on Pitch Perfect 3 and (even bigger shutter) The Emoji Movie.) It walks the fine line between presenting several cute animals in various situations but never get overly sentimental or mawkish with how it treats them. The voice cast delivers strong work throughout even if this is one of those cases where massive stars are drafted into an ensemble where some characters do not clear double figures in terms of their number of lines. It’s nothing extraordinary but in an age in which streaming exclusives from massive corporations that aren’t Netflix are mostly a warning sign from a quality perspective this was a nice surprise that would definitely be worthwhile in viewers are looking for something that will keep young kids entertained .
The One and Only Ivan was a nice surprise. It is nothing fantastic or anything that adult audiences will not have seen before, but it is the sort of broad family entertainment throwback that is surprisingly effective. Understanding the core of what it is without overselling it or succumbing to a sickly sweet overly manipulative tone. Easily the best of Disney’s straight to streaming releases outside of Hamilton thus far. If watchers are looking for something pleasant and do not mind something that was clearly intended for an incredibly young audience, this is a solid choice.