‘Paint’ Crafts a Great Story of Love and Creativity

Ulises Duenas


Owen Wilson’s portrayal of a Bob-Ross-like painter on public access TV in Burlington, Vermont, is both subtle and absurd, yet it makes for the core of a great comedy. “Paint” succeeds thanks to its performances and the confidence of its writer and director Brit McAdams.


Carl Nargle is the host of a painting show simply titled “Paint” and for two decades, he’s been captivating the town of Burlington with his technique and calming narration as he turns canvas into well-made but extremely similar works. Owen Wilson does a great job of portraying a more eccentric take on what is clearly a Bob Ross proxy character. His subtle delivery and calm demeanor make him the clear highlight of the movie, but that’s not to say the rest of the cast doesn’t do a great job.



The movie starts with a basic plot of Nargle’s position being jeopardized by a younger, more exciting artist named Ambrosia. From there, Nargle’s life goes downward as his popularity wanes; his coworkers no longer hang on his every word; and he realizes that he was never that good of an artist. It’s interesting to see a character that seems absurd on the surface grapple with realistic and relatable feelings. This comedy presents a story about creative and emotional stagnation, love and redemption, but that’s not to say the comedy isn’t a highlight.


The comedic timing and subtle humor work really well in this film. Characters have great chemistry and don’t rely on over-the-top performances to get laughs, instead letting the script and their acting ability do the work. There’s a good amount of awkward humor and sight gags, and altogether, there are very few misses when it comes to jokes landing.



Nargle’s fear of failure and creative complacency create a real set of issues for the character and it’s interesting to see Wilson’s character navigate the challenges. He spent 19 years trying to create the perfect painting of a local mountain to hopefully get into a museum, yet he never took the initiative to take one of the paintings there himself out of fear of being rejected. The idea of being content with being a big fish in a small pond at the cost of stagnation is relatable and the thing that gets Nargle out of it is being honest with himself. It’s a universal message that is delivered expertly and the resolution to the story is funny and doesn’t come short compared to the dramatic buildup.


“Paint” has the makings of one of the best films of 2023 because even though the themes aren’t original, the entire film is executed extremely well. It’s not too heavy, preachy, or overly schmaltzy as it finds a good balance between comedy and a great story. 



Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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