LaRoy, Texas REVIEW – Darkly Comedic

Even if LaRoy, Texas is a Coen-knockoff, it's still a pretty darn good time.

LaRoy, Texas
LaRoy, Texas

Things haven’t been good for Ray (John Magaro); he’s broke, depressed and his wife Stacy-Lynn (Megan Stevenson) might be cheating on him. So he decides to end it all right in front of the purplish hues of The Velvet Saddle. But before he gets a chance to do anything, he is mistaken for a hit man, and gets hired to commit murder. What’s a broke man to do? I guess try the hat on and see if it fits. Because Ray is the furthest thing from a hit man, he of course botches the entire thing, and Steve Zahn’s Skip gets involved to help him out.

Magaro and Zahn together are just a brilliant comedic pair. Zahn’s Skip is impulsive and bumbling but he does have a good investigative eye, while Ray’s the more cautious one of the pair, helping to manage Skip and rein him in at times. Magaro – who’s finally getting his long overdue acting flowers after Past Lives last year – is in fine fashion here as the meek protagonist Ray, someone in constant denial about his wife and frustrated with the lack of agency in his life. Ray does some incredibly stupid things in the course of the film, so it helps that Magaro plays the character as he makes Ray someone you want to root for instead of roll your eyes at. Zahn is his usual hilarious self, and the film gives him plenty of space to flex his comedic chops.

Both Ray and Skip find a certain camaraderie with each other due to the fact that they’re both considered failures. Ray’s under his brother Junior’s thumb at work, his wife isn’t happy with him, and Skip wants to be taken seriously as a detective, but is constantly the butt of the joke – even the local cops don’t take him seriously.

Hot on their heels is the real hitman Harry (Dylan Baker), whose mere presence exudes a certain menace – even a casual interaction with a waitress at a diner is enough to make viewers shudder. Baker is great in the opening sequence, his character making easy conversation with a hitchhiker he picks up, only to turn the tables on the man when he reveals his true intentions. Baker isn’t exactly known for playing cold-blooded killers, but he slips into the role with ease here, and his brief appearances in pursuit of Ray brings much-needed tension into the spaces of the film.

While Shane Atkinson’s LaRoy, Texas does appear to have been inspired by the Coen brothers’ body of work, it’s still very much its own film. There’s a certain pathos here watching Ray stubbornly hold on to false beliefs – that maybe money is all he needs to get his wife’s respect – even when faced with the very apparent truth. It’s like Harry says at one point in the film, if you want respect, you need to demand it and do whatever it takes to get it. Meekly toeing the line isn’t going to get you anywhere, and sometimes, confrontation is necessary, even if things get a little messy along the way.

Review screener provided.

READ NEXT: 15 Best Movies of 2023

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.

LaRoy, Texas
The cast does excellent work in LaRoy, Texas. Magaro excels at playing the sad, hapless husband, while Zahn entertains as the hilarious and slightly idiotic Skip.