Ivan the Incredible
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ivan the Incredible is the English-language version of a Danish animated movie. Kids used to the upbeat rhythm of American cartoons and movies will find this film's pace slower and some scenes repetitive. In an odd departure for a story with bullying as its theme, the underlying and puzzling message is that it's better to be bullied than to become a bully yourself. Ivan's father is a disrespectful blow-hard who cares little for his child's well-being throughout most of the movie. Cartoon action consists mainly of chases, punches, strong-armed intimidation, and name-calling. Though the animation is unique, often funny and inventive, most of the female characters are distinguished by great sagging breasts. Be prepared for some coarse behavior (i.e., spitting, peeing, belching).
What's the story?
Poor Ivan. Everybody picks on him in IVAN THE INCREDIBLE... even his dad. In fact, his dad is the meanest of all. The bullies at school have made his life miserable and he knows he'll never be chosen for the Elite Class where everyone is superior and clever. Ivan knows what people say is true. He doesn't read well; he isn't strong; he doesn't have any friends -- except for Lottie, and he's not sure at all why she seems to like him. The only place he's happy is in a secret, abandoned house where he's created a whole world of toys and special gadgets to play with. One day, when Ivan feels particularly bad about himself, a mysterious woman takes him under her wing. She offers him a free miracle, but only for one day. Ivan makes his choice. He wants to be the best at everything! It's only when Ivan's wish is granted that the little boy finds out what actually is important and teaches his father something, too.
Is it any good?
Some imaginative animation and a few funny, even endearing, characters and scenes can't make up for what at its core is the tale of a mean-spirited father taking out his own insecurities on his very vulnerable young son. Constantly comparing Ivan to Tarzan (his ideal), Ivan's dad is not only verbally abusive, but he's also materialistic, selfish, and ignorant. Mr. Olson's ultimate redemption is easy, but also very shallow and unsatisfying. And what Ivan learns over the course of his journey? It's that he doesn't like being a bully, but strangely, with a greater sense of self-worth, he can endure being a victim. Originally a Danish release, the film is more slowly paced than what U.S. audiences are used to, and the scenes of Ivan's humiliation soon become repetitious.
Families can talk about...
Families can discuss Ivan's solution to dealing with bullies. Do you agree with the outcome -- the final scene -- in this movie? Why or why not?
What helped Ivan learn that being "best at everything" wasn't a real miracle? What did he realize was special about him?
According to this story, why do people (both grownups and kids) become bullies?