Posts Tagged ‘marla olmstead’


My Kid Could Paint That is an epic documentary, not because it’s a great documentary, not because it’s addressing some brilliant topic, but because it’s addresses 50-bazillion* things, all interlinked, and never feels rushed or messy while doing so.

The subject of the film, is the abstract art of 4-year-old Marla Olmstead and the myriad issues surrounding it. These include the nature of who determines the value of art, society’s obsession with child prodigies, parental pushing of talented youths, as well as the artistic value (historical and current) of abstract art to art itself as well as its casual and edified viewers. It’s also a story of revenge, of pride, of consequences stemming from naivete in the limelight. See what I mean? Well you would if you rent this movie (hell, Blockbuster even carries it (New Releases)), so there’s really no excuse not to.

But I don’t like abstract art” I already hear you thinking. You know, neither did I for the most part…just seemed silly to me. But that is another great thing about this movie. It takes the time to put the art itself in a historical perspective (it has to, to illuminate the various issues above) while not making a lecture out of it and also personalizes abstraction by letting you see it as the output of an entirely unpretentious 4-year-old .

By the end of the movie, I was so touched as to email the Olmsteads and congratulate them on their perseverance as well as their presence in the world of art. Because of the movie, however, I was able to strip away the pretentiousness of abstract art and take an innocent look at colors intermingling. Not so much making sense of everything, but noting stand-out characteristics and enjoying how they made me feel. I still wouldn’t be able to name influences and act as an art critic, but I could tell you what I like. For that, I highly suggest checking out the supplemental material on the DVD, which features a very non-snobbish art critic/scholar explaining, like, everything in a very non-droll manner.

The only failing of this as a documentary that I could spot (seeing as I’m no movie critic by any means), comes toward the end of the film, when a filmmaker who has kept himself and his voice off camera all throughout the movie decides to expose his personal opinion through biased questions. But this film is as much about the viewer wrestling with the same questions, so take what you may, but take in this movie as well as all its supplemental material. It’s a long journey, but those are the ones most often worth it.

* an over-estimation