The world of competitive drag racing gets a sputtering, cliché-choked treatment in "Snake & Mongoose," an amateurish, haphazardly constructed indie biopic about longtime Southern California track rivals Don "Snake" Prudhomme and Tom "Mongoose" McEwen. The film was made in conjunction with the National Hot Rod Assn., and it shows, in the countless archival footage of races awkwardly crammed in between perfunctorily filmed off-track dialogue scenes that all look the same, no matter where or when they're taking place. (And the time span is long, from the '60s to the late '70s.)
The dramatic tension ostensibly stems from the fact that Prudhomme (a mannered Jesse Williams) was the pure-of-spirit, serious competitor, and McEwen (Richard Blake, equally stilted) was the showman who cared more about money and image than winning. But a movie that pays more attention to dramatizing a hard-won and hard-lost sponsorship deal with Mattel (represented by an officiously corporate Noah Wyle) than offering a compelling portrait of a sporting camaraderie is a rigged-to-promote pursuit indeed.
At the end, director Wayne Holloway unwisely slips in an excerpt of the real Prudhomme and McEwen from a television interview, and the brief flash of well-worn kinship makes all too apparent the missed opportunity that is "Snake & Mongoose."
"Snake & Mongoose"
MPAA rating: PG-13 for extensive smoking and some language
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Playing: Edwards Long Beach StadiumCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun