Leighton Trent’s review published on Letterboxd:
"It builds to a conclusion that, like the best parts of this film, combines movie-magic whimsy with hard-won realism, slipping some very grown-up ideas (and ideals) into a classic talking-animal charmer."
- Kate Erbland, Indiewire
I didn't find myself won over by Disney's adaptation of the Katherine Applegate novel of the same name until this ending Kate Erbland mentions in the above quote. For me, it felt like the film sacrificed some of the magic from the novel for laughs and animal one-liners, despite the beautiful CGI rendering that brings these characters to life (rendering that would've looked extraordinary on the big screen). The final fifteen minutes or so changed that. The film grabbed my heart in a way so few Disney live action or animated films do now. Sadness, apprehension of change, fear, love. All of these emotions were conveyed with such power and clarity here where the script had only scratched these surfaces in the film's first 75 minutes. In its last act, The One and Only Ivan turns into the film it should've been all along and gives its audience the respect it deserves by combining old fashioned family movie magic with complicated themes and ideas that can hopefully spark questions and conversations between the parents and the children that might watch this together.