My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

Rated: PG-13 for language.
Length: 81 minutes
Grade: ACAA+=A
Budget: Small.
Box Office: $257,000

Written and Directed by: Amir Bar-Lev, a guy you’ve never heard of.
Starring: Anthony Brunelli, Elizabeth Cohen, Michael Kimmelman, and Mark, Laura, and Marla Olmstead.

When the modern art of 4-year-old Marla Olmstead started selling for tens of thousands of dollars, she was a worldwide sensation. When 60 minutes exposesed her, she was a pariah. This documentary tells the story and tries to discern the truth about who really made those painting.
Entertainment Value: A It’s gripping as a human interest story alone, and the filmmaking is very personal, including the director himself feeling extremely conflicted both about the truth of the story and about the value of the movie afterward.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence A, Language C, Illegality A
There is nothing in this movie to worry about except for two instances of profanity. One is an art display with the F word in neon and the other is the art critic from the New York Times using the same word to make a point about how different Marla’s art is from the chic audience-alienating art of the modern world. PG-13 is correct for that alone, and I don’t think the movie would have been the same without them both, quite frankly.
Significant Content: A
Publicity and fame for a child is a very dangerous thing because the media need a story, any story, and the more salacious the better. One minute they’re celebrating a prodigy, and the next minute they’re muckraking a 4-year-old girl because the news monster has to be fed. Other themes include the nature of art and the decisions parents must make to best govern their children.

Artistic/Thought Value: A+
In the end, this movie is perhaps the most brilliant work of modern art you could imagine because it is ultimately more about the audience than it is about the story itself. You will be frustrated that the truth of the story is unclear. But this leaves the audience to determine for itself what the meaning of the story is, which is exactly the point and the frustration of modern art. It doesn’t explain itself, or at least it doesn’t do so easily. This irritates many people who want their movies and their art to come with a simple explanation. But I thought it was brilliant, although I’m not convinced the director intended anything grander than just figure out the truth for himself.

Discussion Questions:
~Is modern art really art? Should art interpret itself? Is there skill involved in it?
~While you were watching this movie, what did you want to have happen at the end?
~Who is this movie an exposee of: the family, 60 minutes, the art world, news programs, or America in general?
~Who do you believe painted the paintings? What does your answer say about you?
~Was the 60 minutes piece an attack on Marla or on the family? Do you think that a black cloud hangs over Marla at all?
~Is it good or bad to be optimistic and innocent? What would the art world say? What does their answer say about them?
~Is this movie primarily about the art world or about the world of news media? Is there a difference? Why isn’t there a large news-criticism culture the way there is for art?
~Is the Bible more a work of modern art or a work of classic art? Consider Jesus’s parables, most of which He did not explain and which He specifically says were told to keep the truth from people.

Overall Grade: A
A truly intriguing artful documentary. I highly recommend you watch the extended interview with Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times.

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