66 Thoughts I Had While Watching “The One and Only Ivan” on Disney+

Disney+‘s newest film, The One and Only Ivan hit the streaming service this weekend.

© 2020 Disney

I have not seen a single trailer, read a single synopsis, nor do I have any clue what this film is about. The poster has a gorilla on it, and that’s the extent of my knowledge.

But — it’s Disney and animals, so I will probably cry.

(Obviously, massive spoilers ahead.)

Here are 66 thoughts I had while watching “The One and Only Ivan”

1. Ok, here we go! All I know is this has a gorilla in it. I do like gorillas.

2. I think it was a children’s book? That sounds right.

3. Inspired by a true story? Alrighty then.

4. The gorilla is talking. We are using the word “inspired” very loosely.

5. This gorilla looks VERY realistic. I think they used the Animal kingdom gorillas to map him.

© 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights.

6. Who’s voice is the gorilla?! This is going to drive me insane.

*pauses movie, checks IMDB* OOOOH Sam Rockwell. That checks out. I can continue now.

7. I wish my mall had a circus. Though I don’t know where an elephant would be housed in between a Macy’s and a Cinna-bun.

8. Something tells me this little girl’s mom is really sick and eventually I will cry about it.

9. I like Bryan Cranston a lot but he could use a little more pizazz. Should’ve taken “Ringleader” lessons from Hugh Jackman.

10. IMDB says the elephant is Angelina Jolie but I am not hearing it. I wonder what kind of elephant method-acting she did.

11. The best character so far is definitely the homeless dog.

12. The little girl is giving Ivan her old crayons! What a cutie. Also, I see where this is going. 10 bucks Ivan is going to draw things to save the circus.

13. Why does Walter White hate the dog?! NOT COOL.

14. Oh look, Ivan is drawing. Who could’ve seen this one coming.

15. I am so confused by when this movie takes place. The plot makes me think it should be 1915 but the outfits seem like present day. But there’s no way people would condone a circus like this anymore?!

16. Awwww, the little girl likes the homeless dog. I like her.

17. Also I just realized the homeless dog is Danny Devito, and I can’t decide if that makes him cuter or…..not.

18. The other dog is Helen Mirren!!! Whoever did the casting of this movie should get a raise.

19. A new animal is being delivered!? I hope it’s a great white shark. If an elephant can live in a mall why not a shark.

20. OH MY GAH it’s a BB ELEPHANT. I could cry it’s so cute. (Molly, do not cry at a CGI elephant.)

21. The little elephant is asking Ivan if he’s lonely because he’s the only gorilla, and he’s like no “I’m the one and only Ivan” which leads me to believe, he is in fact, lonely because he’s the only gorilla. (Besides his plush one named Not-tag?? That will probably come back.)

© 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

22. OHHHHHH yikes. The bb elephant is the headliner now. That was fast.

23. Oh no, Stella (the big elephant) is limping. This is not good – I am not mentally prepared to cry over fake animals tonight.

24. Stella was a WILD elephant once?! This is very upsetting. I was naively assuming they were all bred in captivity.

25. Ruby (bb elephant) has to go out solo and she’s scared but I bet Ivan helps her.

26. Oh look, Ivan helped her.

27. Do you think the Animal Kingdom animals all chat at night like this? Like do the meerkats and zebras swap tales about the weird guests they saw that day?

28. Oh yikes, Bryan Cranston’s wife left him because of Ivan. That is a lot of baggage for a gorilla to carry.

29. Stella is asking Ivan to promise he will take care of Ruby through labored breaths. This is usually not a good sign.

30. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd, I am crying over a CGI elephant.

31. Ivan promised Stella he would make sure Ruby doesn’t grow up in a cage. He doesn’t know how, but the dog reminded him he’s the one and only Ivan. This movie is a LOT deeper than I was prepared for.

32. Bryan Cranston is drilling Ruby on her “act.” He’s not a bad man, it’s just the only life he’s ever known and he needs to pay his employees, including one whose wife is sick (I assume).  What a complicated, ethical film.

33. Ivan is still drawing – this time it’s an escape plan to a forest across the highway. Can an elephant and gorilla live in a forest? How’s the seal going to live there? WHERE IS THIS MALL!?

35. Oh, Ivan is the artistic ape now. People are coming to the show for Ivan again! But the promise to Stella….

36. He dropped the crayon, along with Bryan Cranston’s heart.

37. Ivan tricked the dumb-dumb employee to let him out! Good job Ivan!!!

38. They’re all escaping to the wild — but once again, I say — HOW IS A SEAL GOING TO LIVE IN A FOREST.

© 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

39. This is like the weirdest boy band ever.

40. The “chicken cross the road joke” was so obvious, but I still laughed. It had to be done.


42. The forest is a mere patch of trees because the rest is a developed city. Humans are the worst sometimes.

43. I can’t tell if Bryan Cranston is manipulating Ivan or actually believes they’d be better off back at the circus. I think he think he’s doing the right thing, but “the right thing” is often a complicated answer.

44. Ivan remembers his parents and sister, Tag,  in the wild. Once again I ask, WHERE IS THIS MALL. It seems like suburban North America, but I am pretty sure elephants and gorillas aren’t native here.

45. I have a very bad feeling about what’s going to happen to Ivan’s dad, knowing Disney’s track record of dead parents…


47. “Humans are the worst.” – the dog, and also me RN

Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

48. Little Ruby reminds him that Stella said not all humans are bad. I hope this means the little girl and her father save the animals soon.

49. The little girl says her mom is stuck in a cage — she must be in a mental facility, but there’s only 29 minutes left and I don’t think that’s enough time to flesh that plot point out.

50. Ivan is really into painting now…what could he be doing. I think he is going to make a statement.

51. Helen Mirren dog has said like 7 lines total. I feel like she was under utilized.

52. GASP. Ivan painted the jungle he grew up in – literally better than I could.

53. The little girl gets it. She’s gonna help him.

54. “Don’t you always say we gotta try and do the right thing?” – Little girl to her dad. I don’t have kids but I bet it’s the worst when they use your own logic against you.

© 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

55. The circus is closed. Bryan Cranston is sad. All the animals are being taken away and separated. BUT WHERE ARE THEY GOING??

56. I, an educated adult, realize you can’t just free a bunch of animals that are used to captivity because they don’t know how to hunt or survive in the wild, but I, as I watch this movie, want all the animals to go live in a jungle together.

57. Ivan gave the dog the Not-Tag plush as they say goodbye. Salt in the wound, Disney.

58. Ivan is still with humans…so he’s not in the wild but…it looks like it!!

59. Is he at a reserve? An accredited zoo? Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

60. Either way, he is loving the grass and smelling the flowers,  and this is SO much better than the cage at the circus.


62. “She’s free.” – Ivan whispers to Stella as he looks at the sky.


64. True facts about Ivan are shown: he was saved from poachers in Africa, ended up a mall in Washington State where he didn’t go outside for almost 30 years, and learned to paint. In 1994, after protests, he was moved to Zoo Atlanta where he had acres to be outside and roam free, until he died at the age of 50.

65. WAIT. I grew up in Atlanta!!! I’ve been to that zoo on a million field trips. I MUST HAVE SEEN THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.

66. The little girl came to visit with her dad and Bryan Cranston!!! She adopted the dog!!!!! She said her mom likes the dog!!!

66. What an emotional roller coaster.

The REAL Ivan.   Photo courtesy of Zoo Atlanta


Overall, The One and Only Ivan was very cute, and had a powerful message I was NOT expecting. I do wish it had been a little funnier — I feel as though the chicken, seal, and Helen Mirren dog were underutilized and could’ve provided more comic relief. I appreciated the beautiful story and the graphics are incredible — and I will be donating to the Disney Conservation Fund the next time I go to Animal Kingdom to help save gorillas in the wild. While it may not be one I watch over and over again, I think it merits at least one viewing!

On a scale where 1 is Chicken Little and 5 is The Lion King, I award it 3 stars.


Have you seen The One and Only Ivan? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!


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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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9 Replies to “66 Thoughts I Had While Watching “The One and Only Ivan” on Disney+”

  1. I haven’t watched the entire movie. Molly’s article cracked me up. Thanks for always taking us on the journey

  2. I watched Ivan twice yesterday. First viewing was really a screening to see if my little granddaughters would enjoy it. They watched Zombies 2 twenty times. Youngest girl gets emotional at times during movies, I wanted to prepare her a bit. I deemed the movie would be enjoyed without spoilers. I found myself constantly wondering if Ivan was a real gorilla or computer animation. The dog, Bob, was quite a good actor. Why oh why Disney? Why did you make me cry not once but twice at the end? Tears of happiness but still sat there weeping. My football loving husband was caught up in the film also. He was clearing his throat at the movies end , which I took as an emotional response. Overall, a fairly good movie! I will carefully check out the Silverback Gorilla the next time I visit Animal Kingdom, just to see if there might be some crayons and paper strewn about.

  3. A classic Disney movie, great cast, that bunny was pretty stupid, GET OUT the truck! Didn’t really see the point in the girls mother being ill as this was never enhanced upon. This movie was like Free Willy, and reminded a bit of Jurassic park at the end 😀 but a very cute ending and nice to see it was based on the true story, my kids loved this film.

  4. I had a lot of these same thoughts, but I’ve read the book–many, many times as a read aloud to my elementary class. I wish you had read the book first! Even more of an emotional roller coaster, but a beautiful story.

  5. I watched it Friday night. I too also was teary eyed when Stella passed. I didn’t hear what happened to his mom. I wanted to see Walter hug Ivan (yes I know he’s a silverback, but still 27 years). Sad they couldn’t be together in wild. I wonder if Ruby is still alive? An update on the rest of the ones involved would have been nice. Sad Ivan passed. Knew I would cry for CGI animals. Curious if you have any pictures from the zoo from any of the times you went

  6. Movie was not as good as book, but yes the tears flowed. Glad I could watch at home. Read the sequel The One and Only Bob…it’s even better.

  7. My wife and kids can’t wait to watch this cause they have read the books. I guess the movie holds pretty true to the book?