Owen Wilson taps into the quirks of Bob Ross for his latest feature, Paint from IFC Films. Brit McAdams pens the screenplay and handles directing duties.
Owen Wilson portrays Carl Nargle, Vermont's #1 public television painter convinced he has everything: a signature perm, custom van, and fans hanging on his every stroke. Throughout the last three decades, Carl has hosted the highest-rated painting show in the history of Vermont Public Broadcasting. He's never had a reason to be anything other than a star. His success defines him and all of his relationships, including the lustful admiration of his co-workers Wendy (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Jenna (Lucy Freyer)
Equally defined by Carl's success, the people around him have put their dreams on hold for him, particularly his former flame Katherine (Michaela Watkins) and his boss Tony (Stephen Root). Like many men his age, Carl can't adapt to a changing world. Things are even more complicated when Ambriosoa (Ciara Renée), a younger, better artist, steals everything (and everyone) Carl loves.
When I first read the description of Paint, my assumption was the movie would take the route of 2002's severely underrated Death to Smoochy. That film was a black satirical comedy and a striking combination of sweetness and cynicism. The central character of Smoochy, portrayed by Danny DeVito, is naive and without a sense of malice, whereas his foe Rainbow Randolph (Edward Norton), is despicable and vengeful.
In Paint, though, Brit McAdams creates a stark contrast between the two characters, showing how Carl is consumed by his desire for success and fame and how Ambriosoa is content with a simple life, never compromising her values for fame or fortune. The landscape and people of Vermont are a reflection of the past, which is a theme in the movie. The lack of billboards and the idea of Carl being a "gentleman" symbolize that Carl is stuck in the past and can't move forward.
Primarily the film belongs to Wilson, who delivers the type of performance you would expect from him. The rest of the cast has moments here providing funny moments that will play into those like a dry wit style of humor. If you are going into the film expecting gross-out humor or profane-laden one-liners, the film might be something other than your cup of tea.
While I doubt, I will ever revisit Paint. Hopefully, Brit McAdams doesn't take another extended hiatus from directing. When the credits on this film rolled, I couldn't help but think of a Bob Ross quote. "Talent is a pursued interest. Anything you're willing to practice, you can do."
Final Grade: B-
Paint opens in theaters on April 7th