Ivan the Incredible

 
Offbeat cartoon about bullying; confusing message for kids.
  • Review Date: February 28, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive messages

Focus is on bullying with confusing message. Bullies are shown to be those who lack confidence and have low self-esteem. When it's the hero's turn to be the bully, he enjoys his new role for a time, gradually realizing that it does not suit him. At film's end, however, Ivan appears to believe that it's better to be bullied than to be a bully and accepts his role as "victim" with a smile. 

Positive role models

Ivan's father is a bullying, verbally abusive dad with poor values and little love or compassion for his son; he learns the error of his ways, but unconvincingly. With the exception of a miracle-working "witch," other adults are portrayed as either ignorant, shallow, weak, or unreliable -- usually a combination of these traits. Made in Denmark, there is no ethnic diversity. 

Violence & scariness

Cartoon action throughout, much of it hateful and directed against vulnerable characters. Bullies (including the hero's father) intimidate a variety of victims throughout. They punch, throw, spit, and are verbally abusive, with lots of name-calling. A woman hits her pet bird over the head with a banjo, then knocks him out to sleep. In a wild ride, Ivan and a schoolmate race through town upending everything and everyone in their path. A butcher appears with blood covering his white apron in several scenes.

Sexy stuff

Female characters are drawn with prominently sagging bosoms throughout; one young girl's budding breasts are drawn with nipples. It's implied that Ivan is naked in a few scenes, though no nudity is visible.

Language

Insults abound. Ivan is called a "yellow-belly," "jelly Tarzan," "little runt," "mega dork," and he's told that he is "no good at anything." Ivan's father is constantly mean and belittles his son. Spitting, peeing, belching are intended as humor; a book is entitled "Arty Farty."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Ivan's dad drinks wine and another adult beverage in two scenes. A female bully appears to be chomping on a cigar in several scenes; it's actually a sausage.

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).   

Parents say

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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?

QUALITY
 

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? 

Movie details

DVD release date:July 2, 2013
Cast:NIcola Coughlan, Paul Tylak, Marcus Lamb
Director:Michael Hegner
Studio:Crone Film Produktion
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:for some bullying and other rude behavior.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old May 18, 2014
age 10+
 
Lame, boring and stupid, this is one of the worst films ever made. The animation was poor.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byWOLF13 May 1, 2015
age 18+
 

stupid movie with bad animation

This movie was full of stupidity and crap
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byThisIsTerrible July 27, 2015
age 2+
 

CRAP

This movie made me want to slam my head in a car door. I've seen stoners that can animate better than this. it is one of the worst movies i have seen in my life. Now all the children will remember this day forever, and will cry every time they think of this piece of shit.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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