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My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

tomatometer

94

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 82
Fresh: 77 | Rotten: 5

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.

93

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 2

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.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 5,021

My Rating

Movie Info

Most four-year-olds make paintings that hang on the refrigerator in their parents' kitchen, but by that age Marla Olmstead already had her first gallery show in Binghamton, NY. Born in 2000, Marla first picked up a paint brush when she was a year old, following the example of her father, an amateur painter, and soon the tyke was creating large canvases with unexpected skill and enthusiasm. Her father gave one of Marla's paintings to a friend who owned a coffee shop, and when a customer offered

Mar 4, 2008

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All Critics (86) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (77) | Rotten (5) | DVD (7)

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.'

March 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop 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 IconTop 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.

November 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
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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.

November 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Documentarian Amir Bar-Lev began making a film about whether Modern art is a scam and whether a 4-year-old painter from Binghampton, N.Y., might not be as good as Picasso. But Bar-Lev ended making a film instead about whether the 4-year-old is a scam.

November 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Questions of authenticity surrounding four year old Marla Olmstead's paintings occasion filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev's insightful investigation about media frenzy and public perception, and the very nature of nonfigurative art.

June 16, 2009 Full Review Source: About.com
About.com

One of art's richest rewards is its way of teaching us about our assumptions, doubts, and capacity for faith. ... My Kid Could Paint That gets people thinking and talking.

November 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

Marla's story is a sobering illustration of the way children can be exploited by adults who should know better %u2013 journalists, filmmakers and especially their own parents.

June 5, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

Like all good art, this raises difficult questions.

May 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

Mais interessante do que a provável fraude envolvendo a encantadora Marla é a reveladora sombra que o documentário projeta sobre o universo da arte moderna.

March 24, 2008
Cinema em Cena

...an awfully slight yet basically agreeable documentary...

March 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

The paintings become colourfully self-deluded distortions of a world where adults project themselves back into childhood, capitalizing on both the adult nostalgia for innocence and our fascination with children who seem somehow adult.

March 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

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

February 22, 2008 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

Documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev's "My Kid Could Paint That" is an impressive feat in that it revels in its own ambiguity while still giving us a very entertaining, ripped-from-the-headlines mystery story.

December 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

A compelling documentary that leaves you wondering if there is nothing sacred in this stinking world.

December 18, 2007 Full Review Source: BBC

... starts out as a meditation on the nature of art and the machinations of the marketplace ... curdles into an inconclusive and trivializing whodunit.

December 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A highly engaging documentary that recounts a remarkable tale.

December 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Hugely entertaining documentary that raises interesting questions about media exploitation, the value of art and even the subjective nature of truth within the documentary format.

December 13, 2007 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

Raises compelling questions about artistic 'authenticity,' the 'meaning' of modern art, the voracious and double-edged demands of the news media, the exploitation of children and the nature of faith itself.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Bar-Lev handles [the portrayal of the Marla hype machine] sensitively and with a minimum of contrivances. He examines his role, but avoids excessive self-reference.

December 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

The journey becomes as frustrating as it is engrossing for director Bar-Lev and even more so for the audience.

November 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

A probing film not only about the subjective nature of art but also about the hypocrisy of the intelligentsia, the pervasiveness of modern media, and the sincerity of parents.

November 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Bar-Lev exploits Marla as much as, if not more than, any other player in his movie.

November 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle | Comment (1)
Austin Chronicle

It's a rare glimpse into the truth about the world and the art that tries to say something about it.

November 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Audience Reviews for My Kid Could Paint That

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.
August 16, 2012
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Amir Bar-Lev strikes gold with this documentary. A very capable film maker gets his break when a twist in the story he is covering reveals a compelling mystery. This is a doc about so much more than a little girls paintings and its text book perfect film making!
September 30, 2009
SirPant

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.
August 10, 2009
LitelBluHli

Super Reviewer

Really good. There is a shift half way though the movie as the scandal breaks and the film maker needs to shift focus to what might be going on underneath it all.
As I watch more and more docs I have noticed that there are not many that can tell the story objectively. This one is the same as the director puts his struggle to try and stay objective into the film. Does he continue with the original premise of documenting a child painter or does he follow the path before him that could taint the story as a ruse?
A well done film that lets you decide for yourself in the end with the facts laid out before you.
April 5, 2009
superclerk25

Super Reviewer

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