Monday Mystery Movie: ‘Paint’ lacks originality as an off-brand Bob Ross movie

Photo courtesy of IFC Films

Monday Mystery Movie is an exclusive movie showing put on by Regal Cinemas, where viewers get to see an unreleased film for only $5. Monday Mystery Movie returned to theaters on March 20, and despite being on spring break, I had to make a pit stop for the film.

On their Twitter page, Regal hinted at what film may be up next, with a tweet saying, “Psssst! Here’s a clue on the upcoming Monday Mystery Movie… it’s an exclusive theatrical release opening after March 24 & there’s an A in the title. Any guesses?”

The comments were flooded with upcoming titles like “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” “Barbie” and “Paint.”

But when the movie previews exclusively featured IFC Films, all signs started to show that the upcoming IFC Film “Paint” was Regal’s film of choice this time around. 

“Paint” follows Carl Nargle (Owen Wilson), a famous Vermont painter with his own show on a local PBS channel whose world is turned upside down when a newer, and younger, painter named Ambrosia comes to steal his fading spotlight.

Carl, previously a womanizer and idol in his town and at the PBS station, is soon pushed to the backburner. Once he realizes everyone, including his fans, prefer Ambrosia, his career, life and self-esteem start to fall apart.

The thing that’s obvious about Carl, he’s clearly a knockoff of Bob Ross. For those who don’t know Bob Ross, he was a famous painter with a PBS show called “The Joy of Painting,” which featured Bob Ross walking viewers through a 30-minute landscape painting tutorial, just like Carl does. 

Bob Ross is known for his gentle demeanor, calm voice and happy attitude, especially his famous saying, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” His personality, along with his famously poofy afro and tobacco pipe, are all copycatted into Carl Nargle’s character. 

[Owen Wilson stars as Carl Nargle in the 2023 IFC film “Paint.”]
Photo courtesy of IFC Films

This entire aspect practically ruined “Paint” for me. Throughout the movie I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not this similar series of events happened to Bob Ross, or how many of these scenarios were made up and unique to Carl. 

It’s one thing to make a character somewhat resemble a famous figure, but to copy a celebrity as influential as Bob Ross risks creating a film that lacks originality. 

The first 30 minutes of “Paint” were difficult to watch. Right off the bat you’re hit with uncomfortable and cringy sexual references and the oversexualization of knockoff Bob Ross. A clip can be seen in the trailer of Carl offering his sandal to a woman and her caressing it against her face.

Scenes like this are quite frequent during the beginning of the film, and it’s absolutely unsettling, especially if you already have the mental connection between Bob and Carl. That, along with the lack of plot, was almost enough for me to walk out mid-movie.

However, I’m glad I stayed. Eventually, “Paint” shifted from cringy and disturbing, to incredibly enjoyable.

It felt as if the audience got a wake up call alongside Carl, and we realized that he went from a desirable local celebrity, to a second-rate citizen. 

The second half of “Paint” was filled with humor and heartbreak. As Carl decides it’s time to reflect on his past and look within, he starts to make some changes, which ultimately turn him into a loveable character. 

The comedic aspects of “Paint” are what kept the storyline interesting, although there were a few jokes cracked that had me questioning when exactly this film took place. 

For example, there is a scene where a woman tells Carl that she’s calling an Uber, and he responds by telling her that he doesn’t know what an Uber is. The confusion stems from the fact that up until that point, I was under the impression that “Paint” was taking place in the 1970s-1980s. 

The wardrobes, hairstyles, home decor and technology are all in line with those two decades, so the reference to Uber seemed way out of left field. 

Additionally, it was difficult to find Owen Wilson believable as Carl Nargle. Wilson, who’s arguably most famous for his role as Lightning McQueen in Disney’s “Cars” franchise, is easily recognizable both physically and vocally. 

When you take someone as recognizable as Wilson, it’s hard to see him as anyone other than McQueen, or any of his other notable roles, including John in “Marley and Me,” Mobius in the Disney series “Loki” and Hansel in “Zoolander.”

So, due to no fault of his own, Wilson just didn’t make a great lead character. Owen Wilson was simply a man in a Bob Ross wig, not Carl Nargle.

Despite that, the remainder of the film was thoroughly enjoyable and made up for the sub-par introduction. If you can power through the beginning, “Paint” is sure to make you laugh. 

“Paint” will be released exclusively to theaters on April 7.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. FawneB

    I can’t tell if people are or were expecting this to be a movie about Bob Ross, so are disappointed from the get go. Am looking forward to seeing it. Please note, Owen Wilson plays Mobius M. Mobius in Loki, NOT Morbius. That’s a whole other multiverse of the MCU.

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