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The Independent Critic

John Magaro, Steve Zahn, Dylan Baker, Megan Stevenson, Matthew Del Negro, Brad Leland
Shane Atkinson
Rated NR
110 Mins.
Brainstorm Media

 Movie Review: LaRoy, Texas 
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I first fell in love with Steve Zahn's work way back in 1999 with the underappreciated indie gem Happy, Texas. So, you'd better believe that I'm going along for the ride with Zahn co-starring alongside John Magaro in writer/director's Brainstorm Media release LaRoy, Texas.

LaRoy, Texas is, for sure, an entirely different cinematic beast. Easily described as Coenesque, LaRoy, Texas is a darkly comical western-thriller centered around Magaro's Ray, an ordinary joe who has been summoned to a greasy spoon by Zahn's Skip to receive news that no man wants to hear - Ray's trophy wife Stacy-Lynn (Megan Stevenson) is cheating on him. Skip provides this news with photographic proof and a sort of inept swagger amplified by Skip's inability to spell the word "detective" on his own business cards. 

Ray doesn't take the news well. However, just as he's sitting in his car ready to off himself he's unceremoniously interrupted by a complete stranger who hands him a name and some cash and tells him to complete the job by tomorrow. 

Our adventure begins. 

LaRoy, Texas is a reminder of just how brilliant both Zahn and Magaro can be when presented with quality material. Magaro reminded us of this fact most recently in the critical darling Past Lives, though it's been a bit since Zahn has dazzled as much as he dazzles here. 

Before long, it seems like everyone in LaRoy, Texas is on the take from someone plus there's the not so trivial matter of the real hit man (great character actor Dylan Baker) who doesn't take kindly to someone snagging his gig. 

While LaRoy, Texas is narratively uneven, it's a fine feature directing debut from Atkinson (writer of Poms) and a film that should have the Coens knocking on Magaro's door in the near future. Magaro is a mesmerizing sadsack as Ray, never completely pathetic yet clearly a disappointment to his wife and an afterthought in the family-owned hardware store where he spends his days. He has a decent life, however, decent isn't good enough for his wife as she aspires to open her own beauty salon and has grown tired of his inability to raise the funds to do so. She's clearly out of his league - not so much because he's better, but because he's been so beaten down he can't muster up enough energy to care anymore. 

There must be something about Texas that brings out the best of Zahn. He's an absolute stunner here as Skip, whose own misguided confidence can't hide the fact that nobody around him gives him an ounce of respect and he's not half the detective he projects himself to be. Zahn, who started out his career gangbusters before spending far too much time in comedies unworthy of his talent, has been experiencing a critical resurgence as of late and that continues here. 

Together? Magaro and Zahn are an inspired pairing. 

Then, there's the matter of Dylan Baker. Baker's Harry is rather horrifying as a sort of Chigurh-lite with just a hint of Mister Rogers. While LaRoy, Texas never quite lives up to all the tension, Baker absolutely dazzles here. Among the supporting players, Megan Stevenson impresses as Stacy-Lynn and Matthew Del Negro is appropriately smarmy as Ray's brother. 

With undeniable hints of No Country for Old Men and Fargo, Laroy, Texas is a slightly funnier and more empathetic film with strong characters and a natural tone that makes this an engaging and immersive story from beginning to end. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic