Bob Ross’s hair was a factor of magnificence. When he appeared on “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee,” Regis Philbin teased him about his Afro, which Ross sweetly admitted is likely to be extra nurtured than nature. And photographs of Ross as a young person after which as a younger airman rocking a pompadour clarify he all the time favored a great ’do. This is among the many cheerier scenes within the director Joshua Rofé’s “Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed,” a documentary much less about Ross’s life than about what occurred to his model within the later years and after his dying. Annette and Walt Kowalski, who have been Ross’s enterprise companions, usually are not painted in a flattering mild. (The couple declined to take part within the movie.)
Ross’s tv present, “The Joy of Painting,” ran from 1983 to 1994. And the title nods to the best way Ross coached college students after which an exponentially rising viewers to deal with a mistake as a “happy accident.” Yet, as a lot as completely satisfied was Ross’s touchstone phrase, grief permeates the movie. Ross died of lymphoma in 1995. He was 52. His solely baby, Steven, and buddies and fellow artists John Thamm and Dana Jester carry the heft of the storytelling right here.
If we’re to belief the movie — and this isn’t an unreasonable concern on condition that it treads on disputes over the property — then heartache laid the muse of Ross’s relationship with the Kowalskis. Annette Kowalski had lately misplaced her son when she took a course with Ross in 1982. A nonetheless deeper sorrow infuses the movie. “I’ve wanted to get this story out for all these years,” Steven Ross says early on. Later he states, “What they did was shameful, and people should know that.”
From the outset, the documentary nudges us towards the shadows with a twinkling then foreboding rating. Illustrations with the feel of a paint-by-numbers package underline the darker themes of Steven Ross’s recollections. The movie’s depiction of what the Kowalskis did to personal Ross’s identify when he grew to become sick is ugly, but unsurprising on condition that the events have been within the midst of a authorized dispute.
Toward the tip, the director pulls out of the ethical tailspin by introducing of us touched by Ross. These testimonials are welcome however they underscore that the opposite aspect of this saga is sorely lacking. The melancholy result’s that the painter with the spectacularly lulling voice, the hallmark ’fro and the liberating kindness stays a thriller; not the model that’s made hundreds of thousands however the man who touched hundreds of thousands.
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. Watch on Netflix.