Movie Review TagPaint dries quickly… It’s a glib way of describing a movie about art, but it’s also perfectly suited for a film that makes fun of TV art instructor Bob Ross. Of course, being caustic can be amusing in the right hands, and the script has been mixed by experts (Brit McAdams). But in spite of an attempt to give the painting icon some shading, you can’t escape the feeling that you’re watching an SNL sketch on ambien.

That’s because there is nothing inherently cinematic (or funny) about Owen Wilson’s portrayal, other than his puffy hair, soft voice and knack for drawing. The character is about as dull as a blank canvas, with less personality than one of those “cubist” portraits you might find at an art show. And he’s not even named Bob Ross! Why the filmmakers decided to write a story about Ross and call the protagonist “Carl” is beyond confusing.

The movie starts out nice enough, with Carl wandering through the forest in search of his next landscape. He’s a big deal in Burlington, Vermont, where his TV series has an audience of locals who tune in every week. In each episode, he thanks his viewers for allowing him to take them to “a special place,” a parody of the hokey quotes that made Ross a household name. But then things go downhill fast.

When his viewership begins to dip, his career is threatened by a woman (Ciara Renee) who starts a competing program called Painting with Ambrosia, which is basically the same show as his, but with a lot more energy. Carl soon finds himself at a crossroads, as support dwindles from his manager Tony (Stephen Root) and his girlfriend Katherine (Michaela Watkins). When he’s eventually let go, he loses sight of what made his persona and creations so unique.

That downward spiral is treated as a comedic instrument rather than a constructive scalpel, and what’s on screen is a reminder that Carl is not a real person. His relationship with Katherine is never taken seriously, and the film would rather mock his inability to stay relevant than tackle bigger themes like success. Carl is the butt of the joke, but what exactly is the joke? He’s never meant to represent anything other than a Ross-like caricature, without any of the issues that marked the artist’s life or the details that defined his work.

McAdams is a talented and experimental director, but cinematically, Paint makes you wonder if he’s been left without a producer, cinematographer or production designer. There’s no color in the set-pieces or texture around the edges. McAdams and Wilson faithfully recreate some of Ross’ television segments, but it always feels like Wilson is wearing a Halloween costume rather than embodying a human being.

As the plot unfolds, it starts to take on a demented quality, especially as Carl begins to lose his grip. It’s a movie that feels less like a celebration than a hit piece, which is a misstep given how many people see Ross as an inspiration. His work may not be in the Louvre, but it’s in the hearts of fans everywhere.



















































































































































































































































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