A Work of Art or Utter Disaster?
Paint (2023) is a comedy/drama film directed and written by Brit McAdams and produced by Peter Brant and Sam Maydew. Follow Carl Nargle (Owen Wilson), a local treasure in Vermont known for his soothing voice and beautiful landscape paintings in his own public television show. Carl seems to have it all, receiving praise from his local fans and even great admiration from many women who worked with him at the network station. But his life takes a turn for the worse when a woman named Ambrosia (Ciara Renee) arrives at the studio and steals his audience with her own painting show. Faced with a new challenge, Carl must find a way to remain relevant to his fans and save his career from becoming overshadowed by his new competitor.
Not a Bob Ross Film
If there could be one word to describe this film, it would probably be “misleading.” The reason for this is that the protagonist heavily takes on the likeness of Bob Ross, a world-renowned painter typically known for his calming voice, gorgeous painting videos, and iconic hair. However, shockingly, this film was only inspired by Bob Ross and has absolutely nothing to do with his life. So, for those who might be hoping for a biopic about Bob Ross’ life, unfortunately, this is not a great place to find it. This is easily the worst issue about the film, as most people would likely assume it would be about Ross, only to be disappointed to learn that it was a completely fictional movie about a different person.
Another aspect that this film struggles with is the tone. For a film labeled as a “comedy” and a “drama,” it sure seems to struggle to portray either style of genre. There are a handful of funny scenes, such as the awkward hookup scene with Carl or the tedious stoplight scene with Carl and one of his fans. Although these moments are few in number, they felt out of place, disrupted the tone, and just weren’t enough to qualify it as a comedy film. In terms of the drama aspect, most of the tension occurs between Carl and Ambrosia, who are constantly at each other’s throats to outshine the other. Carl’s decline in popularity is probably the most gripping part of the film, as it is always tragic to see how a new star overshadows a once-beloved celebrity. However, this conflict ends abruptly in the middle of the film, and the rest of the plot drags with ambiguous side plots that can’t decide between a cheesy romance and a self-discovery film.
Owen Wilson Wow’s in This Film, But Other Characters Not So Much
For those who are fans of Owen Wilson, or even those unfamiliar with his acting, most viewers would likely agree he was certainly the star of the show. While not as loud or dramatic as his previous roles in other films, Wilson still brings a striking performance to the screen through Carl’s character. His calm, friendly, and patient demeanor is a charming twist to Wilson’s other roles and presents him as an admirable person who still experiences personal issues. Viewers will sympathize with Carl as they witness his devastating transformation from an idolized painting celebrity to a forgotten artist who struggles to make his passion for art visible to the public eye.
Other than Carl, it is difficult to form a meaningful connection with the other characters. There are several moments throughout the film where the plot tries to create tension between Carl’s ex-partners, like Katherine and Wendy. However, the film fails to establish a strong, believable conflict between Carl and his former romantic interests. Most of their scenes together are done through flashbacks rather than in the present moment, and, as a result, the fights he has with his exes do not carry any raw emotional weight. There is another potential relationship that is set up for Carl, although his new partner is hardly involved in his current life and is merely used as a tool for comedic purposes.
A Fabulous Atmosphere
One of the best highlights of Paint would have to be the soundtrack. The score features jams like “Barracuda” by Heart, “Annie’s Song” by John Denver, and “Hot and Nasty” by Black Oak Arkansas. Each of these songs gives a classic 70’s rock feel to the movie that perfectly matches the tone of the environment. Not only are these songs catchy and enjoyable, but they also help emphasize the character of Carl and how he perceives the world with a groovy attitude.
Another enjoyable aspect of the film was the effects and atmosphere. Viewers can expect to be pleased with mind-blowing transitions like paintings transforming into an actual set that Carl walks in or paintings slowly coming to life with carefully shot zoomed-in scenes. Seeing all the beautiful paintings is quite fascinating, and without giving away spoilers, there are even some scenes that creatively use paint to display Carl’s inner turmoil as an artist. There are also a few scenes where the shot becomes hazy and has a lot of bright colors, giving it a nostalgic vintage vibe reminiscent of 70’s music videos.
Finally, one more notable aspect of the film is some of the breathtaking views that are displayed throughout the film. Viewers will get to witness gorgeous wide shots of mountain valleys and rivers under an orange sunset. These mostly occur when Carl thinks about his paintings, and it helps the viewer literally get into his mind a little bit, which is pretty clever. All of these types of scenes, paired with the fun classic rock music, make for some really entertaining moments that are visually appealing to the audience.
Overall, Paint is a mediocre film filled with faulty plot direction, ambiguous character development, and a confusing style of genre. Most of the movie held a serious tone coupled with a few jokes, but it simply wasn’t enough to call it much of a comedy. However, the tension with the characters hardly had any real emotional weight either, as Carl’s backstory with them is not clearly developed and occurs mostly off-screen. The only memorable moments occurred when Carl competed against Ambroisa to keep his fame and not lose his career and passion as an artist. However, when that premise ends, so does the excitement for the film, as it tries to fill in gaps with unexplained romantic side stories and a contradictory character arc for Carl.
Although this film lacks in story and characters, it compensates with the atmosphere, funky classic rock music, and stunning views that make the experience visually satisfying. For those who simply want something that is chill and relaxing, this might be a good choice.
Paint is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, YouTube TV, AMC+, Google Play Movies & TV, Sling TV, and the Roku Channel. The film is rated PG-13 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 36 minutes.
Paint (2023) Official IFC Films Trailer