How to Blow Up a Pipeline

Starring: Ariela Barer, Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner, Jake Weary, Irene Bedard, Olive Jane Lorraine

Director: Daniel Goldhaber

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Rating: R for Nights of Debauchery Amidst the Activism

Release Date: April 7, 2023 (Theaters)


Starring: Owen Wilson, Michaela Watkins, Stephen Root, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ciara Renée, Luisa Strus

Director: Brit McAdams

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Weird Sexiness and Pipe Smoking

Release Date: April 7, 2023 (Theaters)

If you’re looking for something new at the theater over Easter that’s a little less mainstream than Nintendo or Michael Jordan, then you’ve got a few options! The quirky comedy Paint is going semi-wide, while the urgent thriller How to Blow Up a Pipeline is getting a more limited release, though you might be lucky enough to find it playing somewhere relatively close. These two flicks couldn’t be much more different, but they both offer an opportunity to stretch your cinematic purview. Let’s get into it!

Based on Andreas Malm’s book of the same name arguing in favor of sabotage in the fight against climate change, Pipeline has the propulsiveness of a heist flick. The target is Big Oil, and the endgame is implanting the idea of property destruction as morally acceptable into a mainstream audience. The cast looks like they’re out of central casting for the latest teen soap opera (probably the most familiar of the bunch is Marcus Scribner, who grew up on black-ish and now stars on that show’s college-set spinoff grown-ish). It’s a disarming tactic that works, as we become convinced that any young beautiful idiot is just waiting to be woken up to the value of dangerous activism. Ultimately, this film is so tautly constructed that you can feel the burn for days afterward, although I kind of wondered if it should even be playing in multiplexes. Aren’t the ideas it’s propagating meant to be spread secretly on the whisper network?

Paint is a much more comfortable experience, although surprisingly enough, it has an equally explosive climax. But before we get there, it calls to mind the featherweight indie comedies of the 2010s, with Owen Wilson in the lead providing some early 2000s energy to spice things up a bit. He plays the immaculately coiffed Carl Nargle, a public television celeb very much in the vein of Joy of Painting host Bob Ross. The real-life inspiration was generally private about his personal life, so writer-director Brit McAdams creates his own unique canvas of Carl’s askew foibles and romantic entanglements. It makes for a low-stakes, fitfully amusing affair. Interestingly enough, the closest comparison I can think of is Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic The Master, which was promoted as a biopic of sorts of L. Ron Hubbard but turned out to instead be Anderson’s own unique version of something resembling Scientology.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline: 4 out of 5 Bombs
Paint: 3 out of 5 Trees