"My Kid Could Paint That"
Directed by Amir Bar-Lev.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 9/12/07
Man, I wanted this to be better; I mean, as
it is, "My Kid Could Paint That"--a documentary that tracks the
international art controversy that surfaced when a four-year-old
from Binghamton, NY was producing well-reviewed, high-priced
modernist abstract paintings that may or may not have been polished
by her parents--is reasonably entertaining. But, as a Sundance
participant earlier this year, the hype surrounding the film was
bigger than its britches in my humble opinion.
Some of this is tied to the fact that there
isn't much discovery here; if you know me at all, I rarely if ever
read the news or have a feel for the pulse of popular culture, and
even I remember the news surrounding this issue. Could a kid
really be that good of a painter? Doesn't all modern
splotch-style painting suck? Why would anyone pay $15,000 for
a piece of art that not only looks like it was painted by a
non-artist, but also WAS painted by a normal child? Hell,
there was even a "60 Minutes" edition dedicated to this very child
and very issue, so one of my favorite things about
documentaries--discovery of something that was right there before my
eyes that I never noticed before--is out the window.
But, the film takes a curious route--the
film was produced and directed by Amir Bar-Lev, a man who basically
documented the family before, during, and after their famous run
with the art sales, the publicity, the scandal, and the events that
happened in the weeks after the scandal when the family tries to
restore its good name. As such, he creates a certain degree of
trust with his subjects (the child's mother even admits as much late
in the film, begging for the filmmaker to believe her side of the
story) but then openly questions whether or not the kid did all of
the painting by herself. This hurts the film more than it
helps, because we already don't know who to believe and then we get
a filmmaker who makes himself a somewhat noticeable part of his own
story. Oh, and we can never really surmise who did the work of
the paintings, and the untrained, non-artist eye (I would guess this
encompasses 75% of the viewing audience) is really left wondering
how the styles differ since 1) they all feature a very Jackson
Pollock-ish mess of colors and styles and 2) even when viewed
side-by-side late in the film, almost all of the child's works look
essentially the same.
So, there isn't the kind of mystery that
might come from a movie like this; there is no real discovery of an
issue since this story was quite large when it popped back in early
2005. But, while you are in the theater, "My Kid Could Paint
That" isn't bad, it just isn't the kind of whopper you are thinking
you will get from something that was a major hit at Sundance.
Damn hype machine!!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard