Painfully unfunny and Owen Wilson are two peas of a modern comedy pod. They go together well. Like jam and bread, or gluttonous guilt and the half-loaf of sourdough bread consumed at regular intervals throughout writing a review for Bob Ross-knock-off, Paint. It would be better to drink it than watch it. Although watching Paint is very much like, well, watching paint. Not even paint drying. Just paint in a liquid state, the thrill of watching it dry and form into a solid ripped from the hearts and minds of audiences settling into this dire and conventionally modern American comedy experience. Are these the dying days of long-form comedic entertainment? Hopefully. Another sip of Paint would be fatal. Yet here it is. Glug it down.
Because if you do not tenderly take the cup of paint Wilson has lovingly crafted, it is a betrayal of a meme of a man who shot through with a catchphrase and a glimmer of artistic integrity, now painted over with a Bob Ross caricature which neither envisions anything more than glib and contemporary references to a man whose work boomed, long after his death. Carl Nargle is a name ripped from the mind of director and writer Brit McAdams for fear the estate of Ross will slam the hammer of good taste and copyright claims onto her feature film venture. “It is hard not to feel,” are the first words from the mouth of Nargle. In fact, it is easy to feel nothing at all, especially on this deeply unmoving and emotionally empty setlist of knocks at a genuine article who is no longer with a generation he has influenced in the wildest ways.
Intimacy and connection with nature are mocked-up for the clear and lazy caricature Wilson plays and it is in that which the future of American comedy lies. Modern-day adaptations of identifiable remnants of culture, a one-line gag which would struggle for a place in a Saturday Night Live line-up, stretched to feature-length proportions. Maddening that may be, the lack of individuality and the blurry horrors of indifference and flatlining representations come from a desire to break from it. Annoying it is to see the cast wink and nudge at the prospect of who they are riffing on, without actually identifying it, is a hopeless endeavour, nor is it clever. Wilson plays up the inarticulate back and forth, the ill-defined and obvious ruminations of being replaced by a younger, interesting unit of profitable measurement. Gentrification of the individual occurs with that back and forth between Wilson and Ciara Renée.
None of it, ultimately, matters. Through the weak-willed CGI flames comes the reservations of love never had and never explained or articulated in a way which can be defined through the lacklustre gags. Nature used as a lifeless backdrop, ironic considering the opening sprawl hopes to dictate Nargle’s love for the great outdoors. The great outdoors is there, through a window to the right of the screen. What a beautiful day. As idyllic as the constant days of Nargle, though he has his freedom, relinquishing your own to watch Paint is a terrible, horrible decision. Wood grain homes and the post-culture, beard-free living of Nargle are hard to swallow when he and Wilson as a performer imply Banksy, brilliance and brutalism around every turn, despite there being not an ounce of any of it throughout.