Ivan the Incredible

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Ivan the Incredible Movie Poster Image
Offbeat cartoon about bullying; confusing message for kids.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 80 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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
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.

What 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).   

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byd'naeb November 13, 2015

Wouldn't Recommend it

I really can't put my finger on it but this movie really made my husband and I uncomfortable! Just kinda weird! .... wouldnt recommend it at all.
Adult Written bySuperAniCritic20 January 2, 2016

Ivan the Boy Who Will Always Be a Victim But That's...Okay?

Okay...I'm not sure what to say about this one. The ending confused me. What was the lesson? Be the victim instead of standing up for yourself? Don't... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 18, 2014
Lame, boring and stupid, this is one of the worst films ever made. The animation was poor.
Teen, 15 years old Written byWOLF13 May 1, 2015

stupid movie with bad animation

This movie was full of stupidity and crap

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 an unpleasant tale. It's about 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. 

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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