Reviewed by Adam Donato
Everyone knows Bob Ross, but most people don’t know his story. They know about his painting, positives vibes, and general likeness. With interviews from his family and friends, this Netflix documentary tells all. The only important player in Bob’s life not seated at the table, the Kowalskis who own his entire company and likeness. That’s where the betrayal and greed in the title come from. Does this documentary stand for everything Bob Ross believed in?
For the laymen that only has a surface level of knowledge about Bob Ross, this documentary is delightful. Learning about his rise to the top of the painting world is as sweet as can be. There’s plenty of footage of him from his show where one can see and hear just how great he is firsthand. Not to mention, there are an obnoxious amount of pictures of Bob Ross, all of them with the exact same big smile that just makes you want to melt. His reputation of being certified for good vibes definitely checks out from what we see of him, even more so the things people said about him are even better.
One tool the filmmakers used to their advantage was paintings of events that weren’t filmed. Not only are the paintings beautiful themselves, but it’s a documentary about one of the most famous painters of modern times so using paintings as a storytelling device is pretty smart. These, in addition to all of the Bob Ross paintings, resulting in quite a visually pleasing experience. If the goal of the documentary is to inspire viewers to take up oil painting, these works of art are sure to do the job.
Just like the title, the story takes quite a dark turn. Documentaries are a good way to make a point and this one is clear. The Kowalski group is surely evil as they went out of their way to screw everybody that Bob Ross cared about to capitalize on his likeness. It’s a complicated situation for fans of Bob Ross because now it feels wrong to purchase any of his products or show in general, but he’s such an admirable human being that it is difficult not to. The resolution of this conflict being to experience the beauty of happiness through painting. The importance and value inherent in enjoying the experience of oil painting is certainly portrayed as a relaxing activity.
Documentaries are a good way to educate people and this one not only educates about Bob Ross, but is sure to inspire future painters. Ross’s reputation of being the most positive force of good energy is sure to be upheld here. Be sure to check this out if you have an interest in art or if you’re in for just having good vibes in general.
Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed hits Netflix on August 25.