Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD to watch this weekend including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD and the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD, the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” and the dreary drama “Euphoria.”
Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to kill time over the weekend including a new cooking show on Crave called “Selena + Chef,” the aspiring artists of Apple TV+’s “Little Voice,” the cocaine opera “Scarface” on Starz and the Disney+ talking animal movie for kids, “The One and Only Ivan.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD, the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” and the dreary drama “Euphoria.”
“The One and Only Ivan,” the new talking animal movie debuting on Disney+, is based on the bestselling children’s novel of the same name written by K. A. Applegate, which was inspired by the life of Ivan, a real-life silver-back gorilla who lived, as an attraction, at shopping center in Tacoma, Washington, for 27 years.
Set in 1973, the movie begins with Ivan (voice of Sam Rockwell) as the star attraction at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, run by Mack (Bryan Cranston), who does double duty as the big top ringleader. When Ivan isn’t locked away in a cage he’s performing to increasingly sparse crowds alongside an aging elephant named Stella (Angelina Jolie) or hanging out with his closest pal, a wisecracking stray dog named Bob (Danny DeVito). Most of the animals have no recollection of how they got there; this is the only life they have ever known.
When an abused baby elephant named Ruby (Brooklynn Prince) joins the circus, Stella looks after her and makes Ivan to take care of Ruby if she cannot. With the help of Ruby and Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), the daughter of the mall custodian, Ivan begins to look past his cage to rediscover his past and move Ruby and his other animal friends to the safety of a zoo.
“The One and Only Ivan” features solid CGI—the fur and feathers, so often a problem in films like this, look real—and good voicework from the star-studded cast— Helen Mirren, Ramón Rodriguez, “The Walking Dead’s” Eleanor Matsuura, Chaka Khan, “Hamilton” star Phillipa Soo and “Enlightened” creator Mike White—but it is the film’s messages that earn it a recommend.
The gently paced drama contains life lessons about leadership, treating all living creatures with kinship, love and respect and the value of promises. Best of all, it preaches and practices empathy for humans and animals. These are potent messages that all add up to the story’s main theme, that we can all make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.
“The Only and Only Ivan” softens the character of Mack, dialing down the wrong doing he displays in the book. It leaves the film with a villain-sized hole but Cranston is, nonetheless, an engaging performer, even if it would have been fun to see a little more Walter White in his portrayal of Mack.
The movie may not be appropriate for all ages. The animals in captivity and other realities of life at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade are probably best suited for children in the middle grades and up.
On the August 16, 2020 edition of the Richard Crouse Show we meet Kiesza, a singer, songwriter and pop star with a fascinating story of resilience. From the reserves of the Royal Canadian Navy to writing songs for people like Rihanna to her single “Hideaway” debuting at number one on the UK Singles Chart to collaborating with everyone from Duran Duran to Pitbull and Diplo she is a bona fide pop princess. Then, in 2017 she suffered life altering injuries when a taxi t-boned the car she was riding in. Her recovery from a traumatic brain injury was slow and involved staying in a darkened room for six months but she is back with a new album, a new self-run record label and a new outlook.
Then… In a career that spans five decades Chaka Khan has sold an estimated 70 million records, collaborated with everyone from Ry Cooder and Robert Palmer to Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, from Chicago to De la Soul and Mary J. Blige. She’s a musician, singer and songwriter with a shelfful of Grammys. I first saw her, with the band Rufus, on Soul Train singing their mega hit Tell Me Something Good. I became an instant fan and have remained so all these years later.
I had the chance to speak with the music legend via Zoom to talk about her role as the voice of Henrietta the Chicken in the new Disney+ film The One and Only Ivan.
And finally…I speak to Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke, the stars of “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.” For more than twenty years Kenny and Fagerbakke have voiced two of pop culture’s favorite animated characters, SpongeBob SquarePants and his pal Patrick Star. In the new film, playing in theatres in Canada, SpongeBob and Patrick go on a rescue mission to save SpongeBob’s pet snail Gary, who has been “snailnapped” by King Poseidon. In this interview e talk about the new movie, the popularity of SpongeBob memes and why these characters have endured for more than two decades.
“You don’t really connect with people very well.” That’s what people tell Megan Leavey (Kate Mara), the title character of a new film from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Luckily she does bond with dogs and that gift saves not only her life but also the lives of many others.
When we first meet Leavey she is a withdrawn young woman, aimless, grieving the loss of her best friend. Living in Valley Cottage, New York with her divorced mother (Edie Falco) and the man who broke up her parent’s marriage, she looks to extricate herself from the drudgery of dead end jobs by enlisting in the Marines. When asked why she signed up she replies, bluntly, “To get the BLEEP away from my life.”
She finds her calling after an embarrassing incident. Caught urinating in public after a night of drinking she is assigned the worst job on base, cleaning out the dog kennels of the K9 bomb-sniffing unit. There she meets Rex (Varco), a violent and aggressive military working dog so powerful he shattered the hand of his former handler with one bite.
With the guidance of the gruff Gunnery Sergeant Massey (Common) and dog trainer Andrew Dean (Tom Felton), Leavey and Rex become devoted to one another and the job. “People count on us and if we do it wrong people die,” she says, “so we gotta do it right.” Spread out over more than 100 missions their teamwork saves thousands of lives but on the second of two deployments in Iraq an Improvised Explosive Device wounds both. Leavey finds the return to civilian life difficult, doubly so when Rex is declared unadoptable. “I’m just trying to give a war hero a home for the last few years of his life,” she says.
Based-on-a-real-life story “Megan Leavey” is a by-the-book but effective bit of storytelling. Guaranteed to tug at animal lover’s heartstrings it’s a love story between woman and dog. “I’d thank him for trying to teach me what love is.” It’s also a tribute to the largely ignored but long, honourable role of dogs in the military.
Cowperthwaite stages several tense bomb sniffing scenes and the troubled family sequences work well but the film is at its best when it explores the loving connection Leavey has with Rex. It’s “Benji” with bombs or “Lieutenant Lassie,” a movie that hinges on the audience buying into the camaraderie between dog and trainer.
Mara is a mix of vulnerability and steel will, a woman who finds meaning in the military and her relationship with Rex, only to see it all jeopardized following her injury.
“Megan Leavey” is a compassionate film that may be a bit too straightforward in its telling but nonetheless is a powerful example of the power of companionship—whether between people or people and animals—to heal the human heart.