April 5th, 2023
STARRING: OWEN WILSON, MICHAELA WATKINS, STEPHEN ROOT, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY
DIRECTED BY: BRIT MCADAMS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
Just one look at Owen Wilson sporting a Bob Ross-style afro will make you laugh. It’s a funny image and a great concept but unfortunately Paint is relying too much on saying, “hey doesn’t Owen Wilson look funny?” Director/writer Brit McAdams has a bit more than that on his hands but it never generates enough laughs or emotions. This is a laid back comedy, about a guy who is a star in his small Vermont town, with his own PBS show where he paints happy green trees. If it was played more straight, this might be an endearing story about how an artist can lose and discover themselves, but as a comedy, Paint is equal to watching…Paint dry. It meanders too long and the humor is lacking inspiration.
We’re introduced to Carl Nargle (Wilson), as he finishes up his recent masterpiece on his show Paint, with his groupie of co-workers anxiously waiting to tell him how great the show was. It’s an odd group of women, all at one point involved with Carl, Jenna (Lucy Freyer) the young naive one, Beverly (Lusia Strus) the drunk one that’s hanging around, and Wendy (Wendi McLendon-Covey) who gets coffee and moves the painting to a safe place. The other two are his station manager Tony (Stephen Root) and producer Katherine (Michaela Watkins) , the one love of Carl’s who won’t fall for his narcissism. Carl is the star of his popular show but when Katherine introduces Ambrosia (Ciara Renee) to follow his hour with more inspired painting, we start to see that Carl’s need for attention exceeds his passion for painting.
One of the big problems with Paint is that it’s not funny enough. What looks like something that could have the potential of a formula such as Anchorman, ultimately has a similar plot, but without half the laughter. McAdams isn’t so much as poking fun at the ridiculousness of a local painting show, but at the man that is Carl Nargle, but Wilson plays the role with such innocence we can’t truly laugh at him. His character is ultimately sad and the lone highlight is Watkins who thrives as the ex-lover that should have skipped out of town long ago. Paint is a movie that truly should have called for the slapstick over the odd kitsch.
The other subplot for Paint is that Carl desperately wants his art to be taken seriously, which is a better kind of conflict to dissect. He may look like Bob Ross, but the character and his paintings represent closer to Thomas Kinkade, where the conflict of being taken seriously as an artist is handled much better in Miranda Yousef’s doc Art for Everybody. I will say the third act has a funny twist, where Carl finds himself teaching painting classes, and no matter how hard he tries to change his approach– even like Jackson Pollock– he still ends up painting the same kind of stuff.
In another universe a movie like Paint is a laugh riot and not this dull. The quirks and eccentricities of Carl Nargle are not enough to make us laugh or care for his journey. Brit McAdams had something better here and could have made comedies in the vein of The Polka King or Napoleon Dynamite. Instead, Paint is just a comedy without much to laugh at, and that does not make for good art.
PAINT IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS ON FRIDAY APRIL 7TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady