“Mulligan” is the penultimate little engine that could, so it’s all the more disheartening to find out that it can’t. It wants to work like the great independent comedies such as “Swingers” and “Clerks” yet falls remarkably short of the mark.
The film follows four buddies out for a leisurely game of golf: a bartender/aspiring writer, a shady womanizing car salesman, a born-again war vetern and a goofy slacker. All of them need to make decisions about their lives and the golf course seems the place where everything is going to come to a boil.
For a film that wants to be a celebration of the bond between friends, it’s cluttered with spastic shifts in tone. Films that focus on the bond between friends need to come from the strength of the actors and characters, an area seriously lacking here. I wouldn’t go to a convience store with these guys, let alone play an excruciating 18 holes with them. The film would’ve worked better if it had been more focused on the characters, as is the film drags into everything from flashbacks to animation with such over-the-top zest it pulls you right out of the movie. The actors aren’t good enough to carry the weight of carrying the story, most of them so outright annoying you’d wish they’d just finish their game and go home. The idea of framing the story around a game of golf is great, but there’s no real care for any of the characters playing.
The story behind the film is unique, as instead of maxing out his credit cards or cribbing inheritance, producer/writer/director Tim Vandesteeg gained corporate sponsorship from the likes of Subway for finance, breaking new ground as an avenue for independent filmmakers. Vandesteeg’s persistence is commendable, yet it doesn’t change the fact that “Mulligan” is extremely flawed, in areas that didn’t require high finances.