The drag-car races last only a few seconds, but the search for compelling material never ends in “Snake & Mongoose.” This chintzy, awkward dramatization of two decades in the congenial rivalry between racers Don “Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen leans so heavily on archival footage it begs to be reworked as a documentary. Aside from nostalgic appeal for racing aficionados, this clunker of a feature helming debut from Brit commercial director Wayne Holloway looks to be a nonstarter even in ancillary.
Script by Holloway and auto-industry journalist Alan Paradise spans two decades beginning in 1958, but generates no excitement from the limp on-and-off-the-track conflicts between earnest phenomenon Prudhomme (Jesse Williams) and fast-talking playboy McEwen (Richard Blake). A mutually beneficial sponsorship from Mattel’s Hot Wheels toys makes them icons in their field, but not enough to build a movie around. Rudimentary tech contributions, pedestrian performances and limited locations (countless conversations occur in front of the same trailer) accentuate the repetitive narrative and shoestring budget. Reliable pro Tim Blake Nelson contributes welcome energy as a fictional color commentator, but a collection of (immobilized) vintage race cars are the real stars.