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PAINT (2023)

Release Date: 03/24/23 [In Cinemas]
Genre: Comedy. Drama.

Studio: IFC Films

"In PAINT, Owen Wilson portrays Carl Nargle, Vermont's #1 public television painter who is convinced he has it all: a signature perm, custom van, and fans hanging on his every stroke... until a younger, better artist steals everything (and everyone) Carl loves." 


Let's get this out of the way first; Paint is not a biopic about famed artist Bob Ross. The influence and inspiration is clearly there, and the look of Paint's central character - Owen Wilson's Carl Neagle - is modelled after the late painter, but Brit McAdams's off-centre comedy/drama is, I presume, a fictional piece that adds a surprising injection of horniness to its quirky proceedings.


With his soft velvety tone and easy demeanour, Carl has long been his television network's favourite source of painting entertainment, wowing his audiences with his locational pieces of art and agreeable commentary.  And as we learn throughout Paint, it isn't just his adoring audiences that fall under his spell, but the hoards of female staff that find themselves drawn to his non-threatening persona, which, ironically, he utilises in a manner that is subtly predatory.


The one thing I think many people will be surprised about regarding Paint is it has quite a strong sexual undercurrent to it.  It isn't graphically sexual, but Carl seemingly having this spell over women gives the film an almost uncomfortable edge; Michaela Watkins and Wendi McLendon-Covey - both delivering fine performances - are two of his conquests that circle his life (and bedroom) the most.


Carl's womanizing ways appear to be of common (and accepted) knowledge amongst his partners, but Paint's most interesting dynamic is ultimately between himself and Ambrosia (Ciara Renee), a new artist who looks to overtake Carl's popularity through her portrait paintings that speak more intimately to the viewers and, quite controversially, highlight Carl's own limited talent in just what he's able to conjure up through his brush strokes.


The idea of two painters going head-to-head in such a manner and resorting to trash-talking one another is one ripe with comedic possibilities, but McAdams seems to be working in a more understated manner throughout Paint, never fully giving in to the absurdity and only lightly flirting with its notions.  Subtle comedy is always appreciated, and given Wilson's own quieter take on Carl it makes sense as to why Paint as a whole would underplay certain set-pieces, but it also can't be helped as to how much enjoyable chaos there could have been had the film embraced its overall absurdity.


Committed performances and a surprising sense of arousal throughout keep Paint from ever being an expected, predictable journey.  It may not be as laugh-out-loud hilarious as some audiences may expect or, on the opposing side, anything overtly deep and emotional - and, again, not a Bob Ross feature - but it's at least a different type of outing that may satisfy the appreciators of quirky comedy who have 96 streaming minutes to spare.

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