Critics' Pick

Snake & Mongoose (PG-13)

Drama 101 September 13, 2013
By Peter Gerstenzang
Snake & Mongoo$e is a lovely little gem of a film, though, like all gems, it’s not flawless. At times, unlike the drag racers it depicts, this flick moves sorta slow, but not often enough to detract from its charms. Director Wayne Holloway (who also co-scripted), mostly does a terrific job, recounting the story of the legendary rivalry between drivers Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, and the sport of drag racing itself, which these two good old boys turned from regional joke into national craze. Holloway accomplishes several remarkable feats here. He traces the rotten roots of corporate sponsorship (the guys hook up with toy giant Mattel) while also savaging condescending car-racing crap like Talladega Nights. Best of all? After watching the movie’s thrillingly filmed races, you’ll never again want to endure another 18-hour NASCAR snoozefest. The acting is pitch-perfect, especially the quietly smoldering Jesse Williams as Prudhomme, our nutty national treasure Tim Blake Nelson as a racing announcer, and Noah Wyle, shedding his sweetheart image as the calculating head of Mattel, who sees big damn dollar signs on toy versions of those crazy cars. Miss the bevy of blue-collar character studies from the 1970s? No need to. Just see Snake & Mongoo$e and remind yourself that shit doesn’t have to blow up for a movie to be explosive.
Wayne Holloway Jesse Williams, Richard Blake, Ashley Hinshaw, Kim Shaw, Tim Blake Nelson, Noah Wyle, Leonardo Nam, Ian Ziering, John Heard Wayne Holloway, Alan Paradise Rocky Mountain Pictures