If Joel and Ethan Coen had no talent, they might come up with something like “The Paint Job,” an aggressively unfunny and overplayed comedy that, midway through, turns into a half-witted serial-killer thriller. “Barton Fink” it ain’t. A couple of sitcom regulars in the cast may help vid sales, but theatrical prospects for indie production are nil.
Will Patton, a fine character actor who’s overdue for a breakthrough, takes a few steps backward with his dim-bulb portrayal of a small-town house painter who’s in love with his boss’s discontented, slightly flaky wife (Bebe Neuwirth).
What the painter doesn’t know might hurt him: boss Robert Pastorelli (who plays a house painter on “Murphy Brown”; must be typecasting) has been killing drunken derelicts who remind him of his abusive father. Murder element, introduced relatively late in film, is cued by prologue sequence featuring one of the father’s drunken, macho rages.
Patton’s tentative courtship of Neuwirth is played for broad laughs, as is the romance’s frenetic consummation. But the comedy is too silly for words, and brings out the hammy worst in the actors. On the other hand, Pastorelli hits a few effective notes of menace and bottled-up rage.
Casey Siemaszko and Mark Boone Jr. are along for the ride as two fellow house painters. Entire cast has been encouraged to speak in the kind of exaggerated nasal twang so common to bad movies set in the American heartland (pic was shot in and around Kenosha, Wis.). As a result, characters often come across even more thick-headed than they are.
Director-screenwriter Michael Taav manages only a few mildly amusing lines, most of them attempts at the deadpan humor. (“This ain’t no joyride–this is a serious ride.”) Tech credits are undistinguished, save for British folk-rocker John Wesley Harding’s surprisingly pleasant musical score.