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Teen Review: ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’

Street Art Doc Rocks

Above: Street artist Banksy... or is it? "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Although "Exit Through the Gift Shop" has been out for quite some time, not many people have heard about it. So I feel I should enlighten you in the hopes you will go to the MCASD La Jolla's screening this Thursday November 18.

I was so interested in seeing this film that I drove up to L.A. with a friend to see it. I was not disappointed. "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a one of a kind documentary that deals with an underground world of street art and artists. It also lets us observe the epic transformation of an Italian man from moron to a brainwashing street art icon.

Thierry Guetta in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."


Above: Thierry Guetta in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Thierry Guetta is your typical foreign guy in the United States. He's trying to make a living by opening up his own shop. But there's something different about Thierry. He carries a camera wherever he goes. This comes in handy when he discovers that his cousin is part of an underground street art movement. The cousin goes by the name of “Space Invader” and allows Thierry to film him placing his art work around the city. After a while, Thierry manages to tape thousands of hours of several different street artists working on various projects. He wants to make a documentary, but he feels his work is missing something, or someone. Banksy!

Banksy is one of the most infamous street artists around and he has somehow managed to stay hidden from the eyes of the public for a very long time. Thierry goes on a quest to find Banksy’s whereabouts but no one seems to know where he is. Those who do won’t speak up. After a while, Banksy gets a hold of Thierry and encourages him to finish his documentary and do his own art.

What I found most intriguing about the film was that this type of environment had never been recorded so extensively (mostly because what these artists do is considered vandalism… and illegal). So why risk being caught red-handed with incriminating evidence? The answer may be that the whole film is a prank, a cinematic version of Banksy's street art.

An example of Banksy's art in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."


Above: An example of Banksy's art in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Obviously what people like Banksy do is amazing. Some people even consider guys like him to be right up there with Picasso and Van Gogh. Whether this film is a documentary or nothing but a prank, there is still an clear message: what these guys do is from the heart and not for the money. Their art work has a short lifespan because as soon as it’s discovered it is taken down. So those who wants a piece of the action tend to pay a high price for it. But the growing popularity of this rebel art is causing their original purpose to get lost in all the mainstream attention. This documentary helps to give a little insight into what the original intentions of these artists were.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" (rated R for some language) is lots of fun to watch and you can’t help but laugh at and feel sorry for Thierry. If you know anything about Banksy and his artwork you will definitely love this film. And if you despise what these people do, I encourage you to watch this film to see their side of the story.

You can read Beth Accomando's review here.

--Jesus Gomez recently graduated from Mount Miguel High School and he would like to pursue a career and a writer or film critic.

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Avatar for user 'RachelleRamos'

RachelleRamos | November 18, 2010 at 7:49 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

The first thing that came into my mind is why you thought the movie could have been a prank. I would probably have to watch the movie because I didn't get a feel of what kind of guy Thierry was. Maybe you were trying to lure us into watching the movie but all I know is Thierry runs around town with his cousin "Space Invader" to film these underground street artists. You could add something that would explain to readers why the film seemed like a prank such as emphasizing Thierry's asinine behavior or maybe his "epic transformation." I felt like the characters of the movie were sold short and the plot cover them. In this kind of film that deals with art, I believe that viewers have to know the character's personalities in order to understand the movie. My interest in art makes me want to watch the movie, but you review help to convinced me into watching it. I enjoyed the review but it was mediocre compare to your other film reviews.

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Avatar for user 'Harbinger'

Harbinger | November 18, 2010 at 7:50 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I think your review gives some insight into this documentary, but that it hardly delves into the depth of it as an art in itself. That is to say, I do not feel that you dealt at all with the film's style or even the told we- the readers- too much about the meaning that street artists get from their form of expression. You merely hint at the significance of their art. However, this review does give the reader a chance to get interested in watching "Exit Through the Gift Shop". So, for that, good job.

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Avatar for user 'Daniel1770'

Daniel1770 | November 18, 2010 at 7:50 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Although your review is good, it felt kind of empty to me. I felt there was a lack of details on the characters themselves. The movie runs on these character because they are the artists that make the art. So in my opinion you would need to go more into detail about the characters. Also i didn't quite hook onto your idea of this being a prank. You say that maybe "the whole film is a prank" but you don't show the reasoning behind that idea. I feel your previous reviews are far better then this one. Maybe you just were not as into it as you claim, but that is just what I am feeling from reading your review

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Avatar for user 'Miranda19'

Miranda19 | November 18, 2010 at 11:16 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Everyone, so far, in my opinion have made good points about the review. It did seem a bit weak compared to the other reviews I've read that you've written. It didn't really seem like you are interested in the film or wanted to keep us guessing so that we would want to see it more to understand what you're saying. Either way, the bit of a review that you did give did make me want to watch the movie. So gratz for doing that. A bit of elaboration on the characters and about the plot itself would have been much more helpful. I think it left more questions than answers, all in all.

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Avatar for user 'JosueGuerrero'

JosueGuerrero | November 18, 2010 at 11:21 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I've seen quite a few urban art films already so I already have an idea of the risks these artists are taking when they go out to create said art. That being said, the review really didn't grab my attention as much as when I was new to this type of art. I feel like a better explanation of Banksy would've helped because many times you'll hear about "the infamous, hardly seen, reclusive" artist so it seems like a cliche. Never the less, the review did grab enough of my interest to make me want to check this film out, so I can't really complain.

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Avatar for user 'lidiaislaw'

lidiaislaw | November 18, 2010 at 11:41 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I have seen this street artist's work before, and having a sense for the raw culture involved in street art, I feel like you presented it in a lackluster fashion. I would have been more interested in a character analysis versus what you gave us, which is just summing up the plot. It seems like you aren't confident about what other people would think of the film, and held back what you felt about it. Their art is very much real, and very much illegal, making this documentary all the more significant. We rarely ever get this intimate of a scope into the underground world of artists who are far from Picasso or Van Gogh. It's like comparing Cat Power to Mozart. There are only a few artists who translate their work from the streets to canvas, such as Miss Van, a female graffiti artist. Still, those are totally different realms of art, and to be held in completely different regards. "Documentary" isn't specified to informational big budget films created to bore you to death. Some of the best films I've seen are documentaries, absolutely compelling, vivid, and well done. There's nothing "Hollywood" about it, unless it's about Hollywood of course. It's a decent review, but I know you could have done better.

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Avatar for user 'johanna03'

johanna03 | November 20, 2010 at 7:24 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I have never watch an art inspired movie before or have heard of "Exit Through the Gift Shop." This review helped me to get introduced to the movie and get a feel for it, but i feel like this review did not give a lot of details on the plot and on characters,which Rachelle Ramos mention this as well. I think there could of been more details on how the movie is run, where the characters end up and more details on what the lesson in the movie is, rather then just saying Thierry Guetta is going around with his camera following his cousin finding art work to shoot. I believe It just does not give you that much feel for the movie. This review still makes me want to go see the film to get the rest of the story. I want to watch and get to know more about this famous "Exit Through the Gift Shop", which has been around for a few years.

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Avatar for user 'krysta20'

krysta20 | November 22, 2010 at 7:36 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I have honestly never heard of "Exit Through the Gift Shop" until I read this review. It sounds like the type of film that is meant to change a lot of people's point of view on street art, from ugly filth to a wonderful way of expression. I'm more than sure some people want to go and see this film now, but I have to admit I'm not one of them. I don't really understand why people are saying their should have been more details about the plot and other details most movies have because this isn't a movie, well it kind of is, but it's a documentary so there isn't going to be a plot. The point of a documentary is to just show real life stuff so there isn't really a plot to talk about. Even if this was meant as a prank film, it more than likely wouldn't have been much of a plot because the whole "documentary" thing.

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Avatar for user 'Carrieann'

Carrieann | November 22, 2010 at 9:25 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Truthfully, i don't really care for documentries in general. It's usually just some boring "movie" with no entertaining values, the kind of videos teachers show in their class to educate students. In other words, boring. So when i started to read the review and saw the word "documentry" i had to force myself to continue reading the review. Thankfully i did continue reading and after finishing this review i was suprised. This documentry actually sounded interesting because i've seen a lot of rebel art and have always wondered what the story behind it was. According to the review, if i watch the movie i'll find out. I guess i'll be watching the movie in the near future.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | November 23, 2010 at 9:48 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for all the comments. Whether you liked this review or not I hope you are inspired by Jesus' enthusiasm for the film to go seek it out. It's well worth viewing.

Thanks again!

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Avatar for user 'nech11'

nech11 | November 28, 2010 at 1:39 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

This is an interesting review. I have seen this kind of art around but didn't think much of it. I just thought its some gang art or something. I don't know why this art is considered illegal looking at the pictures by researching many art of this kind looks really amazing. This review has got me to watch the clip. This art should be inspired and many should know about it. The art work is good quality and hard work is put into it. The artist shouldn't be afraid of the gift they have they should prove to many the talent that is given to them.

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Avatar for user 'farhiya52'

farhiya52 | November 28, 2010 at 9:16 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

The first thing that came to my mind when i read your review was why do you think the film is a "prank, a cinematic version of Banksy's street art"? Actually, i had a couple of questions after reading your review, like what is the "epic transformation" that Thierry Guetta went though? Although i think this is a decent review, i wish you went into greater detail about the films plot. A positive point in this review is that it made me want to go see the movie. I'm curious to see the kind of artwork Banksy and Thierry do, and if it is "artwork" and not just graffiti. Hopefully, after i watch this film i won't just think of it as graffiti, but actual artwork.

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Avatar for user 'babypepe'

babypepe | November 30, 2010 at 12:35 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I have never seen this film before but i would like to see it after reading your review.i really like when you said you drove all the way to l.a with your friend just to see this film.....for me when you said that it really want to make me wanna go and look for this film and watch it because this film has to be really good if you drove all the way up there to go see it and write a review on it....its really cool what artist do or go through for a piece of art like you said in your review.......i really enjoy reading your review jesus your review defenitley makes me wanna go and look for this film.

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Avatar for user 'ryan_black'

ryan_black | November 30, 2010 at 9:19 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

artists take risks to show off there work. people do it everywhere. They made a film on it don't make it a prank. Alot of people go to jail beacuse they take such risks hopping on freeway signs. making a film is beliveable. Its there passion and there work is amazeing why not document it? I have never herd of this artist or seen the film. After hearing they are classifyed as the next picasso and davinci im completely motivated to see this film. I would be glad to post again after watching this film to see if its a boring documentry that you watch in school or an intresting underground art documentry.

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Avatar for user 'jassal619'

jassal619 | December 8, 2010 at 7:34 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" seems like a very interesting film to watch. Jesus Gomez did a very great job describing the movie and his opinions.Jesus made me want to go watch this film because i enjoy watching documentary's. Banksy seems like an awesome artist and should be more exposed but their art would not be able to go out to people. Much people enjoy his type of art but most say its just violence. Jesus did great on this critic review and i would definitely go watch this film

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Avatar for user 'K3LL3N'

K3LL3N | December 9, 2010 at 6:42 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I've never seen this film but after reading Jesus' review i think maybe i would like to see this film. I don't see why people do street art but they know the risks there taking and if they possibly want to end up in jail then there doing it at there own risk. i think most of there work is stupid and pointless, but if guys like Banksy want to do it they know what kind of risk there taking. Jesus did a really good job on this review so i will probably will see this film at sometime.

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Avatar for user 'RonnieH'

RonnieH | December 15, 2010 at 11:28 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

i never heard of this movie and im not a huge fan of documntarys but this sounds like a good one. I always wanted to be a artist and this seems like it would show me somethings about street art. and i like the picture of the dude holding the m4 in thr first picture.

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Avatar for user 'franciscolemus93'

franciscolemus93 | December 16, 2010 at 10:36 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

i believe that i would have to watch the film to understand this review because there can be much more than what the review says. so when it talks about "underground art and artists" so you do not know what sorts of amazing things they can come up with. even with then picutres shown about, there could be even better art, or something very unique. so i very much would want to watch the film to get a better picture in my head instead of the review.

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