Paint, the Inspired Film about Bob Ross

Paint strokes and crooked noses.

Grae Stockhausen

Watching Bob Ross was the highlight of my weekends spent with my father as a kid. We would make popcorn and sit on the couch for an hour or two traveling to wherever Ross was painting. Hearing about the new movie that came out, Paint, made me excited to relive my childhood with a Bob Ross-inspired film. 

Carl Nargle, who is the main character, is the painting star of Vermont’s public television. He has it all, charisma, talent, a decked-out van with a foldout couch, and a perm. When ratings start to drop, he is offered a second time slot, which he intently declines. This causes the station to hire another painter with just as much talent as Nargle. A story of self-doubt, lost love, and really big hair, there is a lot to unpack.

While it can be seen as a Bob Ross-inspired movie, there is no direct correlation between Carl Nargle and Bob Ross besides the big hair and a knack for painting landscapes insanely well. Nargle’s story is one where he is a narcissistic playboy who only cares about himself until later in the film when he realizes his mistakes and tries to correct them. Nothing like Bob Ross at all. In fact, it isn’t even labeled as an inspired film. Anything similar to Bob Ross, like the plain white collar shirt worn every Painting with Carl Nargle episode, or the soft, almost ASMR-like voice used to narrate his paintings, which are also aired on PBS. Just a coincidence! 

Even though the story is revealed to be anything but Bob Ross’ life story, it is still an interesting story nonetheless. It’s a sweet film about learning to be yourself and not trying to please others. While it’s a cliche movie theme, it’s presented in a strange way. Nargle starts off as a vain player who frequently hooks up with the female coworkers of the station he works at and turns into a recluse who lives with his true love after faking his own death.

It’s a very calm movie with bright colors and a ton of moments that are slightly inappropriate. There’s no real action, even when Nargles barn begins to burn down. Even though there is a lack of action, the storyline is entertaining enough to keep your eyes open in those Emagine recliners. At some times, it can be a bit awkward to watch, and it’s only because the humor is so strange and the actors carried it out in a dry-humor way.

Maybe it’s my love for Bob Ross or appreciation for Napolean Dynamite-esqe movies, but this is definitely a movie I would rewatch and recommend to anyone who needs something to watch. Paint was definitely not what I expected but surprised me in the most pleasant way possible.