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My Kid Could Paint That

1 h 23 min2007PG-13
A look at the work and surprising success of a four-year-old girl whose paintings have been compared to the likes of Picasso and has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Amir Bar-Lev
Amir Bar-LevAnthony BrunelliElizabeth Cohen
Special InterestDocumentary
English [CC]
Audio languages

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Amir Bar-Lev
Axis Films, Inc.
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Foul languagenuditysmoking
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3.7 out of 5 stars

103 global ratings

  1. 33% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 26% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 26% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 11% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Carla DeanReviewed in the United States on August 22, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Beautiful innocents, Ugly media
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This is always the way things go in this emotionally abusive and self important arrogance of ALL people who consider themselves "film makers" and "art experts". I think this film exposed how innocent people get caught up in what was clearly a worldly phenomenon that is fickle and crazy and think their opinions should matter and they base everything on flawed, ever changing emotions. The parents were just trying to help there beautifully happy and normal children have an experience they assumed would be with like minded people and sadly they discovered there is a lot of miserable, self serving, immature adults who are NOT good nor kind and will do whatever they can to create scandal and misery for their own gain. I pray the family can get past this and protect themselves and their beautiful kids from the ugly ignorance and mean spirit that is everywhere today. God bless and keep them.
6 people found this helpful
Movies R UsReviewed in the United States on September 8, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
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1. PARENTS ARE INNOCENT: They are buying student grade paint. Encouraging your child to paint and assembling all the materials for them is no more than what a spouse, roommate or artist assistant would do, it is not part of a premeditated plot! The fact that they started hanging her artwork in a neighborhood eatery with no name or price tag is about as innocent as you can get. Local non-gallery venues in a neighborhood is how some artist start out getting hung but with names for their work AND a price tag. IT DOES NOT MATTER THAT AN ADULT NAMED HER ARTWORK SINCE THAT IS MOSTLY FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES ANYWAY.
2. BUYERS ARE NOT IDIOTS, whether we buy a postcard, greeting card, poster, cheap piece of art at an art fair, gallery or Sothebys. People ARE NOT buying because she is a prodigy or because she is 4, they BUY WHAT THEY LIKE AND CAN AFFORD ON IT'S MERITS (OR REALISTICALLY BECAUSE IT MATCHES THEIR SOFA, LOL).
3. MARLA is an authentic artist, just watch her process. If her father had done the artwork he could have taken his paintings to a gallery and does not need to hide behind a child.
4. NEW YORK TIMES ART CRITIC: He was the only intelligent professional in his overview of the art world, artist and collectors.
1. JOURNALIST/DOCUMENTARY FILM MAKER- "If it bleeds it leads." "Sex sells." Sensationalism and conspiracy theories. They and they alone created the false narrative that Marla was a child prodigy, the parents NEVER claimed that! So they were all debunking their own false assumption. EVERYONE ACTS DIFFERENT ON CAMERA.
Need I say more?
2. CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: Basicly called the journalist liars with the child prodigy theory. That woman knows nothing about art. Saying that Marla is no more talented than any other child doing artwork is false. Any child can show more talent than another child doing anything WITHOUT being a prodigy. Her color palette alone is exceptional. All you have to do is watch MARLA'S PROCESS, look at her eyes, look at her selecting the brush/paints, her use of the spatula, her color selection, telling her father to paint because SHE WILL TELL HIM what to do. People are not buying the art because she is a prodigy.
3. GALLERY OWNER: Is 2-faced, who praises her work when it sells and berates it when the media is critical. How can any artist or gallery owner NOT UNDERSTAND why art sells? How can he equate photo realism (his artwork) with abstract art? It is NOT ABOUT REALISM OR TIME SPENT CREATING OR THE AMOUNT OF LABOR OR SKILL! It is about appeal, a composition of color and form. Just because a horse looks like a horse does not make it a greater piece of artwork than blobs of brown paint. Buyers see what they want to see anyway based on their own perception regardless of what even the artist intended. This gallery owner and any other critic should look at the full range of Picasso's artwork over his whole career, as well as art by Basquiat and Giacometti for starters before criticizing or being skeptical of abstract art.
4 people found this helpful
abReviewed in the United States on May 20, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Art is subjective
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I am a school teacher and see paintings like this all the time from kindergarten children. Provide them with a big, black, canvas and paint colors that go well together and many could be artists and prodigies, similar to this child. As the documentary discusses, art is very subjective, and someone has to decide that it is "art" in order for it to receive attention and to sell it. I like to do paintings myself and enjoy art, and greatly encourage children to do it, but also think it is sad that people pay millions for such art work when there is so much suffering going on in the world. There are children that go hungry every day...
3 people found this helpful
Sammy DudeReviewed in the United States on August 8, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
She Paints With Liquitex!
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How do paintings, no matter who paints them, sell for thousands of dollars when they are made from Liquitex paints-----the cheapest paints on the market? The art world is desperate for the newest thing and they latched on to this little girl because it's such an unusual story. ("It's a Vera Wang" they mumble to each other at social events.) I think the father is blinded by the money and fame, and living vicariously through his extremely young daughter since he's working in a Frito-Lay factory and not making money as a painter. Marla is a kid! She paints suns and lines and circles. We really did not get to see "Ocean" painted from beginning to end. We saw parts of the painting process. The color combinations in the painting (Liquitex!) are far too advanced for a four year old's brain. As for stinking Charlie Rose? We all know what happened to him!
3 people found this helpful
C. O'GradyReviewed in the United States on January 2, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
I Don't Believe That Kid Could Paint All of Those
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Did you ever help your child with their homework? Or did your parents ever help you with yours? Did it get taken a step further and a good deal of a report or a project was done by the helping authority figure?

"My Kid Could Paint That" takes this concept to its extreme. You can read the basic synopsis of the film elsewhere (and I figure you're familiar with what the film is basically about...ok, SPOILERS TO COME), but one thing that struck me was how emphatic Marla was regarding not talking about her paintings. When the media is around and other people ask her direct questions about them, she clearly doesn't want to say a word about them. Not just reluctant, but actively avoiding it. On the first viewing it didn't particularly capture my attention, but when I saw it again, it made me wonder about the parents involvement in her staying mum on the subject. But of course when the filmmaker of this documentary is around a lot, she does open up a bit and say things that those around her wish she wouldn't.

Another point was where did the titles of the paintings come from? I imagine from the dad (and I suppose this isn't a horrible deception...if one at all) because the only time I remember Marla specifically referring to one was as "the green one." And she was saying that it was completely painted by her younger brother. She "didn't paint any of it." And when you see it quickly in the film, you can understand that a very young child could paint that. It's not very good at all. And that is a very odd deception. Not only are they presenting paintings that look professional but they're also exhibiting a painting that is amateurish and it isn't even hers. Does she usually not even come up to that standard? From all the examples of her painting on camera, this might be the case. "Ocean" and the one on 60 Minutes seemed to take a good deal of time (along with the fact that her father frequently had to 'encourage' her to paint at all) and they had to get work out to meet the demand. So when the brother's piece looked mediocre, they threw it out there anyway. Or perhaps it was to show that she had different "styles."

As far as the titles of them, "Ode To Pollock"? Did she look at his work and then pay tribute to it or did she just come up with a completely different style than "what she normally paints" and her dad noticed that it resembled some of Jackson's work. Hmm.

The DVD extra "Back To Binghamton" (NY, where the Olmsteads live) shines more light on financial matters. In the main film, the parents try to play up that all of the money is going to Marla's "college fund." And it's just an afterthought. The mother specifically tries to play up that they just chanced upon all of this and are going along for the ride. Of course the father and the Binghamton gallery owner come across as loving the attention so much and the gallery owner as such a huckster, along with the fact that where is the money coming from to cover all the expenses of everything, that it's hard to buy the reluctant participant angle. The DVD extra shows the West Coast art gallery owner from the film saying how the Olmsteads were unhappy with him talking to the media and saying that he's their competition. Either they're naive or I am, is how he basically put it. Also, there's a Q&A in a showing of the film in the extra and the Binghamton gallery owner states that Marla is "set for life." Deception or not, it's gone well beyond a "college fund.".

In the extra (the film editor and the Binghamton gallery owner also do a commentary...worth a watch), the director also shows the painting he filmed before 60 Minutes aired and then how it turned out off-camera. The difference is startling. The father also brags about how Marla is such a good artist from a drawing sense and shows some examples that appear to be on loose-leaf paper. Sorry, but they are not impressive. I have drawings from when I was 4 and they are far more advanced. And no one ever claimed that I was a prodigy in any sense of the word.

In the end, I just don't see how anyone without bias can look at the better paintings, and not see that that little girl didn't have the fine motor control, the ability to make the long sweeping strokes, or just the artistic sense to produce them on her own. Or even produce them with only the coaching of her father. Unless, as the child prodigy expert said on 60 minutes, she was "miraculously" able to change her style and do so.

And in spite of my negative take on most of the adult subjects, I do love the film and the extras and watch them repeatedly. I am fascinated by this entire story.
21 people found this helpful
kbReviewed in the United States on July 4, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
What is the value of art?
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What is the value of art? How is it determined? I looked up Marla on the internet to see how she grew up since 2004, what she was doing. She is still painting, and from her site, in my opinion, the paintings don't differ so much from what is depicted in this documentary. I like many of them. Art is subjective. If Marla is happy and well adjusted, I'd be glad. Many of the adults around her, when she was too young to understand, acted badly.
3 people found this helpful
Matt JacksReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great so far, I just..
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I love the "my kid could paint that" idea !

I"m an abstract expressionist myself and when I step into a blank canvas with an artillery of paints and brushes I feel so free and i need nothing.

I've painted for 40 years and I've slowly developed. I can tell you that that child could never paint those paintings - the contrast, subject matter isn't thing a child could comprehend. sorry but is true, someone faked those paintings.
3 people found this helpful
TWReviewed in the United States on July 24, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Horrible Parents
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In short, a documentary about a pair of horrible parents teaming with some horrible friends on a job to make some cash at the expense of utterly exploiting their children.

Sad part is, kids are programmed to depend and love their parents regardless of how abussive they may be, emotionally, psychologically, or otherwise. And these folks go out into the world to eventually have kids of their own, and this cycle continues.

Thankfully, this film maker highlights this really uncomfortable truth to the masses so that we can learn better.
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