It’s no coincidence that Carl Nagle, Owen Wilson’s character within the new comedy “Paint” (now taking part in in South Florida theaters) resembles the late public-TV painter Bob Ross, whose posthumous reputation continues to growth on social media. Like Ross, Carl sports activities a puffy ginger Afro and attires himself just like the form of cowboy who’s by no means seen a spur. And like Ross, he makes a residing internet hosting a portray tutorial sequence on, within the film’s case, Burlington, Vermont’s PBS affiliate, the place he has accrued a cult viewers of longtime viewers, lulling them into a spot of serenity along with his whispery, hypnotic, palliative cadences.
However the similarities finish there. “Paint” just isn’t a Bob Ross biopic; it’s not even a stealth model of Ross’ story with the title modified for creative license. It merely exploits Ross’s branding for a middlebrow satire about creative hubris and a altering zeitgeist, set in opposition to a public-television panorama it seldom appears to grasp.
We meet Carl reigning over his area, a quiet rock star with acolytes galore. Regardless of portray solely variations on a theme—undistinguished bucolic landscapes of Mount Mansfield—his dulcet tones and folksy demeanor maintain wheelchair-bound seniors rapt of their assisted-living services, and he has all however turned the feminine staffers on the station into groupies melting over his each utterance. Even a few persistent drinkers at an area bar watch his program, transfixed: “I nearly forgot the place I used to be for a second,” one presents, when Carl’s present ends.
However Carl’s kingdom is quickly to break down. His scores aren’t what they was, and the station has employed an upstart new painter, Ambrosia (Ciara Renée) to observe Carl’s program, and he or she’s a extra dynamic expertise: He paints mountains and streams, whereas she paints UFOs spouting beams of blood. Knocked off his perch—and with bruises accumulating on his fragile ego—this longtime womanizer and one-trick painter displays on his previous errors, embarking on a road-to-Damascus journey.
“Paint” is cringe-y for the improper causes: not as a result of it’s uncomfortable to look at, however as a result of its comedy is arid, sexist and unfunny. The screenplay, from writer-director Brit McAdams, has a low opinion of ladies, just about all of whom slaver over, or have slavered over, the film’s protagonist, to the purpose that their identities are wrapped round him. Its gags died with the “Bare Gun” franchise: That is the form of movie during which “goofy intercourse behind a van” is a recurring motif.
Good satire deploys absurdism in in any other case plausible environments, exaggerating the acquainted for comedian impact. However “Paint” lacks roots in a recognizable actuality. It’s ostensibly set in trendy instances (to wit, one character calls an Uber), but all the televisions, with their low-def receptions, resemble boxy outdated items from the ‘70s to the ‘90s. The film’s PBS station appears extra like Eighties public-access tv, with its laughable programming and shoestring manufacturing values, than a up to date affiliate comparable to Vermont Public, which in 2022 declared web belongings of greater than $84 million. Ah, however why enable such picayune particulars to get in the way in which of a chintzy joke?
When “Paint” succumbs to sentimentality, it’s much more unconvincing. The film hundreds irony upon irony besides when it dispenses hokey aphorisms as novel insights, all to reward its protagonist with a redemption he hasn’t earned and doesn’t deserve. If Bob Ross had been a much less well mannered man, he’d be rolling in his grave proper about now. I, nonetheless, can mission my criticisms loud and clear.
“Paint” is taking part in now at Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton, AMC Pompano Seaside 18 and different space theaters.
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