Film Review: ‘Snake & Mongoose’

This chintzy, awkward dramatization of a real-life racing rivalry is a real drag.


Jesse Williams, Richard Blake, Ashley Hinshaw, Kim Shaw, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Fred Dryer, Tim Blake Nelson, Noah Wyle, Ian Ziering.

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.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Snake & Mongoose'

Reviewed on DVD, West Hollywood, Sept. 4, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 101 MIN.


A Rocky Mountain Pictures release of an Entertainment Universe production in association with Rhino Films and the National Hot Rod Assn. Produced by Robin Broidy, Stephen Nemeth. Executive producers, Elliott Broidy, Alan Paradise, Gunter Schaldach, Jesse Williams. Co-producers, Steven J. Brown, J. David Williams, Betsy Stahl, Eddie Michaels. Co-executive producers, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen.


Directed by Wayne Holloway. Screenplay, Alan Paradise, Holloway. Camera (color, HD), John Bailey; editor, Richard Halsey, Nicholas Wayman-Harris; music, Gary Barlough; music supervisors, Richard Burkhart, Richard Bennett, Barlough; production designer, John Mott; set decorator, Ryan Welsch; costume designer, Innana Bantu; sound, Jim Lakin; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Michael J. McDonald; visual effects, Gorilla Pictures; stunt coordinator, Anthony Nanakornapanum; line producer, Doug Blake; associate producers, Skip Allum, Bob Angelotti, Michael Baumgarten, Jeff Burton, Dan Flynn, Ken Goldstein, Glenn Selig, Donald Slaiman, Reid Stover; assistant director, Sean Tippins; casting, Ronnie Yeskel.


Jesse Williams, Richard Blake, Ashley Hinshaw, Kim Shaw, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Fred Dryer, Tim Blake Nelson, Noah Wyle, Ian Ziering.

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content