Josh Jones’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ivan is a gorilla who is part of a circus style show, and through a couple of changes to his life, he questions his life of captivity.
The special effects are flawless throughout, with the whole film being based around talking animals.
The voice cast are all convincing and manage to give these animals a character.
San Rockwell voices the gorilla Ivan who is the most relatable of the group, as he experiences jealousy, and his character arc deals with the very human issue of being wanted, and needing a purpose. Ivan must choose between the success of his own career, and a promise that he made to his friend.
Angelina Jolie voices the elephant Stella with a sense of kindness and beauty.
Danny Devito voices the dog Bob in a humourous and mischievous way. Helen Mirren voices another dog named snickers, who is posh and clean.
Brooklynn Prince voices Ruby, an innocent baby elephant who is brought in as the next big thing for Mack's show.
The other side characters are all good as well and these character dynamics provide a lot of humour for the film as well as the conflict that drives the plot forward. This is in addition to Ivan and Ruby's dynamics.
Bryan Cranston plays Mack, the head of the animal show. He portrays kindness, as well as the stress and despair of dealing with financial and personal issues.
Ariana Greenblatt plays Julia, a charming kid, who forms a bond with Ivan that provides the heart of the movie.
There are some genuinely sad moments in the movie, as it effectively tugs in your heartstrings. It deals with issues of captivity, human destruction, and personal struggles.
The heart is there, but the film does skip over the 'replacement of Ivan' section that I wanted to see more of.
The story is pretty generic , and feels like we have seen it before in many Disney, and family films.
I also felt that Macks storyline was left unresolved. Yes he learnt to not just think of himself, but now he is lonely and will have financial difficulties for the foreseeable future.
This was an entertaining, heartfelt, and funny, family film, that can fall into clichéd territory, and copies some of its plot from Dumbo.