My Kid Could Paint That (2007)



Critic Consensus: Director Amir Bar-Lev grapples with exposing the authenticity of four-year-old Marla's paintings at the sake of burdening her publicly shamed family to transfixing results.

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Movie Info

A four-year-old girl, whose paintings are compared to Kandinsky, Pollock and even Picasso, has sold $300,000 dollars worth of paintings. Is she a genius of abstract expressionism, a tiny charlatan or an exploited child whose parents have sold her out for the glare of the media and the lure of the almighty dollar?
PG-13 (for language)
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Mark Olmstead
as Marla's Father
Laura Olmstead
as Marla's Mother
Zane Olmstead
as Marla's Little Brother
Anthony Brunelli
as Gallery Owner
Stuart Simpson
as Marla Collector
Michael Kimmelman
as Chief Art Critic, New York Times
Elizabeth Cohen
as Columnist, Press and Sun Bulletin
Jackie Wescott
as Marla Collector
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News & Interviews for My Kid Could Paint That

Critic Reviews for My Kid Could Paint That

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (29)

New York Times senior art critic Michael Kimmelman offers sharp insights when he mentions how Marla's painting reflects not just 'innocence' and what our psyches project into them, but also 'the cynicism of the art world.'

Full Review… | March 11, 2008
Top Critic

A fascinating exploration of art, creativity, and family dynamics that takes an unexpected right hook.

Full Review… | February 21, 2008
I.E. Weekly
Top Critic

My Kid Could Paint That is documentary gold, and you will have formed an opinion on the controversy by the time you leave the theater. You may not know art, but you'll know what you like.

November 2, 2007
Miami Herald
Top Critic

More than a standard child prodigy profile, My Kid Could Paint That turns into a priceless examination of modern art, celebrity and what it means to be a kid.

Full Review… | November 2, 2007
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

The self-reflexive narrative is particularly fascinating because Marla's story is so critical to selling her art; everyone involved, the filmmaker included, has a vested interest in proving it genuine or fake.

Full Review… | November 2, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's a thought-provoking look at the world of abstract art, the relationship between a reporter and his/her subject, and the nature of parenting, prodigies, and "objective" storytelling.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for My Kid Could Paint That

Amir Bar-Lev pilots a frank and bare bones documentary that lightly critiques society's willful or unintentional manipulation of gifted children, the ethics of art dealing and documentary journalism itself, and the snobbery and baldfaced groupthink of the art world. Also of note is the credit given to the underrated skill and sensibility that goes into abstract art. Even people who don't "get" abstract art should still be able to discern cracks in the "Child Prodigy" authorship narrative with Bar-Lev's objective camera, especially in the side-by-side comparison views of Marla's off-screen and on-screen paintings.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

A four-year-old shakes the art world with her abstract expressionist paintings, but questions surface about her authorship. Before I saw this film, I only knew that it was about a four-year-old abstract expressionist. The film explored every question that occurred to me when I thought about the concept: does abstract art qualify as art, what are the effects of artistic fame on the child artist, who are the parents, and could this be a hoax. Within the first half hour, the film explores everything, which is a credit to director Amir Bar-Lev. The questions about Marla's authenticity take on a new prominence as the film continues and spark a self-reflective journey for the filmmaker. Is he violating a family's privacy by making the film? It's a question that Bar-Lev doesn't take lightly and rightly so. The film's one weakness is that we don't know enough about Bar-Lev before his experiences with the Olmsteads, so it's late in the film before we can attach ourselves to his journey. But all of these stories are compelling, and the comments about art by New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman are particularly insightful. For my own part, I think "art" is a big enough word to encompass abstract expressionism and "splatter painting." While I don't find the work particularly compelling, I do find people who talk about the theory behind their work more interesting than the work itself. The same is true with modern art; I don't like looking at a Warhol, but I like listening to Warhol's apologia for his work. While Marla, the child artist, seems blissfully unaware of the firestorm surrounding her work, the parents work tirelessly to protect her name. I find Mark suspicious, and though I don't think Laura is in on the hoax, I think she suspects her husband. Yes, I think it's a hoax, but the film's strength is its ability to avoid making its own conclusions. Overall, I think when I can start thinking about the film's issues rather than how the film is made, it says that the film is good enough to transcend the typical value judgments we employ when we watch films.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

The parents tried to PROVE that they kid does its own drawnings...and even set up cameras, but you can see them showing her to paint here, paint there...I think this is a fraud. I also think abstract art is bs! Just watch and judge it yourself.

Nani Vang
Nani Vang

Super Reviewer

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