Movie Review: 'Trading Paint' Gives John Travolta An Entertaining Vehicle

Trading Paint John Travolta Sam Munroe Shania Twain Becca Kevin Dunn Toby Sebastian Cam Munroe Michael Madsen Linksy Rosabell Laurenti Sellers Cindy Munroe
“Trading Paint” is a movie that requires one to settle in, let go, and enjoy the ride. John Travolta leads this entertaining family drama with the world of stock car racing as its backdrop. Starting on the track, “Trading Paint” soon switches gears to what really drives the film. The boiling over of long-standing tension directed from a son towards his father.

“Trading Paint” centers on Sam. A retired driver and a widower embarking on a new relationship with a recently divorced teacher (Shania Twain). Sam's son, Cam (Toby Sebastian), is married to the supportive Cindy (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), with whom he shares a baby daughter.

Viewers come into the story mid-tension. Sam is financially strapped but utilizing what he does have to support his son, in their family's racing legacy. The opening race and the ensuing results set the stage for a nasty falling out between the main characters.

Sam's son blames the quality of their car and a lack of finances for the result. In turn, he ends up acting on his frustration. Accepting a job and the invitation to race under a rival driver's banner.

All of which leads to the father and son finding themselves at odds. Clashing on and off the track. “Trading Paint” chronicles the ensuing highs and lows that the duo endure, separately and apart. All while asking if the two can repair their relationship.

Unfortunately, Cam comes across incredibly entitled and his beef with his dad, who is a genuinely good guy, lacks righteous teeth. That said, “Trading Paint” hits on some hard-hitting truths about a younger generation's penchant to blame elders for what they cannot do. Instead of looking inward, accepting responsibility, and working to achieve better results in their own lane.

How “Trading Paint” works through the duo's conflict has its merits. The movie is entertaining and well-paced. Director Karzan Kader ensures that the film never drags, managing to keep this viewer engaged in its various curves. Even as it takes a detour for some subplots that feel integral to the story.

The movie thrives primarily due to its likable characters with even Cam not turning into an utterly irredeemable brat. No easy feat.

There is a lot of heart that beats throughout the movie. Its story is not about how racing reflects in its drivers' lives (i.e., Ron Howard's Formula One opus “Rush”). “Trading Paint” is more about the drivers, who happen to race, and how their lives are reflected in that.

Somehow, “Trading Paint” manages to go for the big dramatic twists without colliding into melodrama. A tough track to maneuver, and it does. The reason for the son's angst is tough to entirely understand. However, that can occur in real-life, so it is impossible to consider it a plot hole.

When it comes to context, a little more about Linksy (Michael Madsen) and Sam's pre-existent issues could have been better defined. The movie feels like it is hurtling towards a big reveal regarding their animus, only to have it sort of explained through traditional rivalry. A more sensitive name for Sam's friend would have also been a plus.

John Travolta remains an ever enjoyable film presence, and he carries “Trading Paint” well. Anchoring the movie with keen attention to the emotions that need to get played. As he did in “The Forger,” Travolta finds the beauty in a father/son bond rife with conflict and hope.

“Trading Paint” also provides an unexpected “Game of Thrones” reunion between two of the series' stars. If “Cam” and “Cindy” looked familiar and you watched the HBO series, there is a good reason.

Toby Sebastian played Trystane Martell, the Prince of Dorne, aka the nephew of Pedro Pascal's Oberyn Martell (the guy who memorably fought The Mountain in a trial by combat). While Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Cindy) co-starred as Oberyn's daughter, Tyene Sand aka one of the Sand Snakes.

To see the two, playing a couple, is highly amusing given how their story played out on “Game of Thrones.” Things did not end well between them. Despite their previous on-screen history, the actors both vest the movie with a believable coupling.

As a whole, “Trading Paint” has an ensemble that trades in being believable. No one takes you out of the film, and Shania Twain is an especially welcome presence, who will hopefully act more beyond this movie.

“Trading Paint” offers an absorbing escape hatch from life for an hour-and-a-half. It drives viewers through interesting interpersonal terrain that fans of John Travolta and family dramas should enjoy watching him dig into. All told, a ride worth taking.

Rating: 6.5/10

You can currently stream “Trading Paint” on Amazon Prime Video.

[Featured Image by Saban Films, AMBI Group]