New golf-themed gay movie connects on some swings, flubs key strokes
By Mark Kari
Director: Chip Hale
Writer: Charlie David
Starring: Charlie David, Derek Baynham, Dan Payne, Thea Gill
Official website: http://www.mulligansthemovie.com/
In golf, if a player flubs his tee shot he may be given a second chance by his playing partners and be allowed to shoot again with no penalty; it’s called a mulligan. Having a second chance at life is what the new gay-themed film Mulligans is about.
Mulligans premiered at the InsideOut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Toronto Sunday, May 18. At a Q&A after the screening, Charlie David and producer/manager Linda Carter explained how Mulligans was developed as a low-budget first feature to showcase David as a writer/actor. He was also able to include his best friend Derek Baynham, who plays his best friend Tyler in the film. And therein lies one of the glaring issues with the film.
Mulligans spends a lot of time with the two friends, Tyler and Chase, Chase’s coming out and Tyler’s reluctant acceptance of his best buddy. But Chase is really the catalyst for the sexual awakening of Nathan, the dutiful husband and father. Nathan makes the most significant emotional journey, as his brief affair with Chase leads him to acknowledge himself as a gay man despite the uncertainty this leads for himself and his family. His is the main storyline and how his homosexuality is revealed—both dramatically and humorously—should have been given more prominence. Charlie David needed to reduce his own role, deferring to the character with a stronger emotional arc. Nathan is the one being given the mulligan, a second chance on life, and it would have been more engaging to see the story through his eyes.
The film is presently making the rounds on the film festival circuit. It was well received in Toronto, with the audience seeming to appreciate the drama and humor. Belying its low budget and the relative inexperience of its creatives, writer Charlie David and director Chip Hale, the film looks good and has an evocative soundtrack. Dan Payne and Thea Gill are credible as a married couple whose relationship is both strained and copasetic. Payne is an Eric Lindros-like McDreamy and it’s totally believable that Nathan and Chase would be attracted to each other. As Chase and Tyler, Charlie David and Derek Baynham make for likeable buddies, but their characters are a bit cliché: the gay guy is an artist and the straight guy is a horny partier. It certainly doesn’t hurt that neither would look out of place in an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.
One wants to like this coming out drama more, but while Mulligans manages to keep the ball in the fairway, for me it is ultimately a bogey. I expect it will eventually find a home on one of the gay cable networks, as this type of clean-cut coming-out fodder seems made for TV.