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Review: Rudy Pankow of ‘Outer Banks’ and Thomas Haden Church star in the film ‘Accidental Texan’

Rudy Pankow of “Outer Banks” stars in the new film “Accidental Texan,” which was released in theaters on March 8 via Roadside Attractions.

Rudy Pankow in 'Accidental Texan'
Rudy Pankow in 'Accidental Texan.' Photo Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Rudy Pankow in 'Accidental Texan.' Photo Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Rudy Pankow of “Outer Banks” and Thomas Haden Church star in the new film “Accidental Texan,” which was released in theaters on March 8 via Roadside Attractions.

Mark Bristol directed from a screenplay by Julie B. Denny and Cole Thompson (it is based on Thompson’s novel “Chocolate Lizards”).

In “Accidental Texan,” Erwin (played Rudy Pankow) is a a fresh-faced recent Harvard student that flames out of his first professional acting job when he forgets to turn off his phone and triggers an explosive nightmare on set.

His career and cell phone in tatters, he flees the New Orleans set, only to have his car break down deep in the heart of Texas oil country.

Seeking refuge and some possible phone service in a local diner, he meets Faye, played by Carrie-Anne Moss (“The Matrix” movie series), a generous waitress who takes pity on him and offers up the local phone book to find a mechanic.

Without enough money to fix his car, Erwin accepts an offer from Merle (played by Thomas Haden Church), a local oil driller only to find out he too is nearly bankrupt and cannot pay his bills.

With both men in desperate straits, Merle realizes their only hope may be Erwin’s acting skills and a little help from Faye’s shotgun.

Rudy Pankow’s acting performance in this film rans the gamut: he is neurotic, subtle, sentimental, and witty, all in one. Pankow humanizes Erwin and makes him somebody that everybody wants to root for.

Pankow has great rapport with Thomas Haden Church, which allows for more resonance.

Speaking of Thomas Haden Church, the viewer can slight recall Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart,” and that ought to be taken as a compliment.

Carrie-Anne Moss is a revelation as Faye, while Bruce Dern delivers a controlled and resonant performance as Scheermeyer.

In addition, Texas as a backdrop (and the visually-striking cinematography) feels like its own character in the movie.

The Verdict

Overall, “Accidental Texan” is an engaging and feel-good movie that has a lot of heart to it. Mark Bristol deserves to be commended for his vision in bringing Cole Thompson’s book to life, and for breathing fresh life into these characters.

It is a poignant story about redemption, morality, faith, and overcoming obstacles. Every person in the cast brings something distinct to this movie.

While the screenplay may be slightly predictable, it is still feel-good escapism, and it is well worth more than just a passing glance. Grab some popcorn or tea or hot cocoa, and allow Thomas Haden Church and Rudy Pankow and the cast to lure you in. “Accidental Texan” garners four out of five stars.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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