The Quirky Comedy On Hulu About Painting Legend Is A Must See

By Robert Scucci | Published

When I first saw the promotional photos for Paint, I didn’t know how a movie could be made about Bob Ross that wouldn’t make a lot of people mad. And after having sat down and watched Owen Wilson channel his Carl Nargle character’s soft-spoken inspiration, I still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about it. Paint isn’t an offensive movie, but I can’t say that it’s really paying homage to Bob Ross either.

PBS Mainstay’s Downfall

Paint is a movie that channels Bob Ross’ personality through Carl Nargle, the host of a popular painting show on PBS called Paint with Carl Nargle. Speaking softly, wearing his hair in a perm, and always illustrating mountain sunsets with expertly placed strokes of burnt sienna and phthalo blue, Nargle has been a PBS mainstay for nearly 30 years, and has become a local celebrity in Vermont.

But Carl’s whole life gets turned upside down when the network’s ratings start to decline and the station manager, Tony (Stephen Root), decides to bring some new talent to the network.

New Competition

Though Paint isn’t a movie that has a huge sense of conflict, the primary source of tension is Carl Nargle’s new competition, a young and extremely talented painter named Ambrosia. Ambrosia is willing to push the envelope with her art and try new things during her broadcasts, while Carl is set in his ways. When new viewers become enthralled with Ambrosia’s ability to draw more than just mountain passes and trees, Carl becomes jealous of all the attention she’s receiving.

Carl’s Existential Crisis

Carl finds himself falling into a depression when Ambrosia steals his time slot and he realizes that he’s been outshined by a younger talent. Sure, he knows how to paint, but this movie version of Bob Ross cares more about his celebrity status and his ability to use his platform to seduce his coworkers than his art at this point in his career.

Having to come to terms with the fact that his show is no longer generating revenue for the network, Carl falls into an existential funk when he realizes he no longer has a passion for painting.

Potential Offense

I can see why die-hard Bob Ross fans would be mad at Paint for kind of making fun of their favorite curator of happy accidents, but it’s really not that offensive of a movie if I had to be honest with you.

I don’t think Brit McAdams set out to throw shade at the Bob Ross estate and tarnish his legacy, but rather wanted to use Ross’ persona as a character archetype to poke fun at the seemingly sensitive and artistic man who really only cares about hooking up with as many women as possible in his decked out van.

Owen Wilson’s Performance

In an effort to give credit where it’s due, I have to point out that Owen Wilson does a great job committing to the bit in Paint. If you had the Paint with Carl Nargle segments playing in the background, you’d probably think that it was actually Bob Ross talking, and not a movie that’s very loosely based on his on-air persona. On-point impersonations aside, I felt underwhelmed by this movie because there’s really not much story to tell.

Length vs. Concept


Paint has some pretty hilarious moments, like Carl Nargle whispering through the PA system that’s rigged to the top of his van so he doesn’t have to raise his voice while driving.

But I feel like Paint would have been better as an SNL short or one-off half-hour special instead of a feature-length movie. I can’t say I regret watching it, but I would have rather watched the same story unfold across 30 minutes instead of 96 because this concept doesn’t really need a whole lot of time to get its point across.

If you’re a fan of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting and want to see what his life would look like in an alternate universe, then Paint is a short (but not short enough), sweet, and somewhat wholesome tribute to his legacy. Paint is currently available for streaming on Hulu.