An Easily Forgettable Small-Town Dramedy That’s Lacking Excitement

Mar 8, 2024


A star-stacked cast fails to rescue a dull script in Accidental Texan, based on the novel Chocolate Lizards.
The predictable plot and forced pathos overshadow the endearing friendship between Erwin and Merle in the movie.
The lack of excitement and forgettable conflict make Accidental Texan an easily overlooked movie.

Accidental Texan features impressive names — Rudy Pankow as Erwin Vandeveer, Thomas Haden Church as Merle Luskey, Carrie-Anne Moss as Faye, and Bruce Dern as Scheermeyer — but the star-studded cast isn’t enough to bring life to the movie’s dull script. The comedy-drama, directed by Mark Lambert Bristol and written by Julie B. Denny, is based on Cole Thompson’s 1999 novel Chocolate Lizards. The film, which premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival in April 2023, tells the story of a city boy who unexpectedly ends up in a small Texas town following a series of unfortunate events.

Originally titled Chocolate Lizards, Accidental Texan is a comedy-drama from director Mark Lambert Bristol. The film focuses on Harvard student Erwin (Rudy Pankow), who flees to New Orleans after an embarrassing accident on a film set. After breaking down in Texas, Erwin meets Faye, a waitress, and an oil driller named Merle, who are in equally desperate situations.Director Mark Lambert Bristol Release Date March 8, 2024 Distributor(s) Roadside Attractions Writers Julie B. Denny , Cole Thompson Cast Thomas Hayden Church , Rudy Pankow , Carrie-Anne Moss , Bruce Dern , AnnaClare Hicks , David DeLao , Selase Botchway , Jake Ryan Runtime 104 Minutes

Erwin Vandeveer, played by Rudy Pankow of Outer Banks fame, scores his first significant acting role after years of hard work and disapproval from his Harvard professor father. He travels from Los Angeles to New Orleans for production, but Erwin’s first night on set ends in disaster, and he gets fired. On his way back to LA, Erwin’s car breaks down in a rural Texan town, where he meets Merle and Faye, who forever change his life. While the film attempts to pull on our heartstrings throughout the story, Accidental Texan’s plot can’t help but be predictable at every turn.

The Unlikely Friendship In Accidental Texan Is Heartwarming (But Predictable)

When Erwin gets stranded in Accidental Texan, Merle, an oil driller, sees an opportunity for the young man to put his acting skills to the test and help bail him out of his debts. Erwin and Merle, played by Thomas Haden Church from Twisted Metal, develop an unlikely friendship as they work together to save Merle’s business and form a strong bond that will warm any heart. Along the way, we learn a couple of Erwin and Merle’s secrets, but the reveals are far from shocking, as they also explain why the two men seek comfort in one another.

Accidental Texan
forces one to sympathize with the characters rather than letting compassion form naturally.

Nothing about Erwin and Merle’s connection in Accidental Texan is surprising or new when considering the history of cinema. Yes, their friendship is rather endearing, and Pankow and Church have great chemistry and give moving performances. But at the end of the day, Erwin and Merle’s friendship is predictable, and that’s because of the script. There is nothing different about the bond between them as its roots could be seen from a mile away before the dramedy ever explains the two characters’ backgrounds and motivations.

Accidental Texan’s Pathos Is Too Forced To Be Believable

While Erwin and Merle’s dynamic is one of the movie’s partially redeeming qualities, Accidental Texan’s forced pathos is a glaring issue. The “drama” aspect of the film is heavily emphasized as Erwin dwells on his failed acting gig and his complicated relationship with his father. Then, when we meet Merle, the story attempts to appeal to our emotions even more. The character’s dire situation regarding his oil drilling company and his lonely home life is just a bit too coercive, and everything about Erwin and Merle’s struggles comes off as convenient rather than relatable.

The actual conflict and the plot’s driving force are severely lacking excitement in
Accidental Texan

On the surface, Accidental Texan’s pathos is standard for most movies as it tries to relate to viewers. However, the film constantly pushes the story’s emotional aspect into our faces. Accidental Texan forces us to sympathize with the characters rather than letting compassion form naturally. The result is a failed attempt to weave successful pathos throughout the movie.

Accidental Texan’s Story Doesn’t Stand Out Enough To Be Memorable

Aside from the characters’ typical backstories and motivations, the actual conflict and the plot’s driving force are severely lacking excitement. Oil drilling isn’t the most boring job in the world, but you would think so while watching this film. The idea of an actor trying to help save an oil drilling company from bankruptcy (and two “fat cats”) isn’t all that appealing. Plus, Accidental Texan’s resolution is easily predictable, resulting in a forgettable ending.

The only time the conflict gets a little life injected into it is when a helicopter appears out of nowhere and starts shooting at the oil rig. But even that development was extremely unbelievable. Ultimately, Accidental Texan is slightly enjoyable, if only for the cast’s performances (especially Church, who is set to star in Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga) and its relatively short runtime. But once Accidental Texan is over, it will be difficult to remember anything significant that transpired in the subpar movie.

Accidental Texan ProsErwin and Merle’s friendship elevates the film ConsAccidental Texan’s story is lacking in excitement and relatabilityThe film is far too predictable with not much that stands apartThe script is fairly dull

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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