Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Week 48: My Kid Could Paint That

[note: this review has a fair amount of detail about the plot, so don't read past the third paragraph if you'd rather be surprised!]

Welcome to my newest obsession. I seriously can't stop thinking about this movie. My Kid Could Paint That takes a close look at the family of Marla Olmstead, a four-year-old painting prodigy whose abstract paintings fetch an upwards of $15,000 - $25,000. Jealous? Yeah, me too.

The hook of this story is unbelievable: a dad sets his four-year-old down at a canvas with some paint and lets her play. A friend who owns a coffee shop asks to put the paintings up...a gallery owners spots one and expresses interest...a local journalist writes a story on Marla...the New York Times picks up the walks journalists and art critics from all over the world and suddenly Marla is famous and her work is flying off the shelves.

For the first thirty minutes of the film, you are amazed at how unbelievable this child is. And then the ball drops when a 60 Minutes expose suggests very strongly that Marla's father might be doing the paintings or at the very least, touching them up to give them more polish.

They filmed Marla completing a painting and it truly doesn't resemble the quality level of her other paintings. Even a second painting she completes while on camera -- her parents' attempt to disprove her critics -- looks markedly more childlike and amateur than her gallery work.

It raises a lot of intriguing questions about the value of abstract art: if the art is really good, should its value be changed no matter if a 4-year-old or a 40-year-old painted it? Roll that one around in your noodle.

What's so fascinating is you get to watch the documentary maker begin to doubt Marla's family as the film progresses. The movie ends on a very ambiguous note. Her dad evidenced some very sketchy behavior in the latter half of the film and has an unfortunate tendency toward verbal diarrhea when he's under pressure, which doesn't help make his case. I really want to believe Marla is the real deal. I just can't decide.

You've got to watch this film to make the judgement for yourself. As for me? I'm buying my kid some paint and am planning to sit back and wait for the cash to roll in. Judging by the crayon work she's done on our dining room wall so far, I'm expecting to earn at least $0-$1.


Kaycee & Russ said...

Spoiler alert!! You just told me what happens in the movie and how it ends!

Motley Queue said...

Sorry Kaycee & Russ...didn't mean to spoil it for you. I felt like I had to explain the plot to communicate why this is so compelling to watch, but I had no intention of spoiling it for anyone. My apologies!

Kaycee & Russ said...

I was only kidding. You didnt ruin anything. I LOVE your reviews. They always have me rolling on the floor.