Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 04/18/22

The Pat Factor. You know those Relief Factor ads where Pat Boone is golfing and talking about how the product helps him maintain his active lifestyle – which he says includes making a new movie. Turns out that wasn’t a throwaway line that some copywriter wrote. He really was making a new movie – and it was about golf! And, as I posted on Friday, it’s actually good one.

Based on the book by Ken Blanchard and Wally Armstrong, The Mulligan is about a successful businessman/amateur golfer Paul McAlister (played by Eric Close) whose family life is a bit of a mess and in need of what golfers calls “a mulligan.” That’s where Will Dunn aka The Old Pro (portrayed by Pat Boone) comes in as the the retired golfer who helps Paul understand that God offers us “the ultimate mulligan.” It may sound hokey but it works – while also offering up a considerable amount of wisdom.

Fathom Events is offering the movie in theaters tonight and tomorrow only. For info on where to find it and how to get tickets click here. My Chat with Pat (now there’s a name for a talk show) follows a clip from the film.

JWK: We previously spoke in May of 2021, along with your co-star Eric Close, while the two of you were making The Mulligan and here we are with the movie about to premiere. I guess that’s the movie you’re referring filming in your Relief Factor ad.

Pat Boone: Well, of course, Relief Factor was a whole different filming but The Mulligan (is a) film that we spent a lot of time and enough money on to make an excellent (movie). Of course, I was not putting up the money. I was playing The Old Pro…I’m really proud of it. (He’s) a guy that had distinguished himself out there on the tour and had become a mentor for the younger golfers coming along – especially those who had temperament problems. I’m assigned to help this young near billionaire who is spending all his time making money but is neglecting his family…and is an atheist.

So, Tom Lehman, who is one of the great tour pros out there not for the last 20 years, is in the film. He plays himself, of course. He’s there in a pro-celebrity tournament in the film as it gets going. In the early stage of the film, this near billionaire hotshot is playing with him and he’s feeling the pressure and he’s making mistakes. He’s making a fool of himself. At one point he misses like a three-foot putt and is so mad that he breaks his putter over his knee and throws the broken putter into the sand trap – which, of course, is a big no-no. And Tom Lehman – a very big, strong golfer – grabs this fellow played by Eric Close in the film – grabs him by both shoulders – saying “Listen, pal! You’re not good enough to get that mad! If you’re ever going to play with us again, go see Will Dunn, The Old Pro, and he’ll help you get control of your temper and your temperament.”

The guy wants to play with the pros so he goes to meet The Old Pro who takes him under his wing to start teaching him how to take a mulligan in his life. A mulligan is a do-over, a start-again, a second chance in golf – but we can also have mulligans and second chances in life if we go to our Creator who makes the rules. He can change things on our behalf and give us second chances.

JWK: At this point in your career, I’d imagine that you only take on projects that appeal to you. What was it about this one that attracted you?

PB: It’s strong spiritual theme. Millions of people love golf. This film is coming out a week after The Masters, the major golf tournament of the year. Of course, everybody who loves golf will be focused on that – by the millions and millions of people. But there are almost no movies about golf.

This is is a terrific film. On the surface it’s a story of a guy getting control of his temper, his temperament and getting his golf game back together as well as his life but the subtext of the film is the Christian theme that we all need do-overs. We all make mistakes. We all blow it – not only at various times, in various ways but, unfortunately, too many of us blow our whole eternal existence by not caring what God wants out of us. Though He wants us to come to Heaven, we have to come to Heaven on His terms. Just like in golf, if you’re gonna play golf you have to play by the rules.

If you play life by God’s rules then you have to count every stroke as a sin – but you can have a do-over. And we do this in the movie. (The Old Pro) teaches that in life, since God makes the rules, Jesus will give you a fresh scorecard, erase your mistakes, put His name at the bottom and you can play your game on His score and not the score you deserve. You will wind up with a score that He creates for you if you let Him. It’s a very good theme. It’s a really well-done story and a well-made movie. We’re hoping millions of people will see it soon after it (plays) in theaters on April 18th and 19th.

JWK: Do you have a favorite scene in the movie?

PB: I don’t to spoil it for you but at a point getting close toward the end of the film the young guy is beginning to get the message that he can have a do-over in his own life – with his marriage, his relationship with his son which is (so) non-existent it’s toxic. He can have whole new relationships (with them) and a whole new beginning in his life but he hasn’t committed to it yet. And he asks The Old Pro “Did you ever ask for a mulligan that you didn’t get?”…While acting that scene, I just wanted to really do it justice as an actor but also in a very important part of the film. I wasn’t sure I was up to it but, when we were filming, and the director says “Action” and Eric Close the actor asks me (the question) to my amazement, as I’m telling him the story and the words are coming out of my mouth something swept over me and I felt myself fighting back tears trying to not break down and sob. I mean I wasn’t acting. It was happening to me. It looks like I’m acting the scene but I wasn’t. I was telling the story and feeling it so deeply that I was weeping.

JWK: As I remember from our previous conversation, you and Eric Close developed a close relationship while filming the movie.

PB: We got to be really good friends and brothers. I’ve made movies with some big stars (and) never did I have a relationship (like that) with James Mason, Ann-Margret, Shirley Jones or some of the terrific actors that I had a chance to perform with. Never did I have the experience of having prayer at the beginning of the day together and sometimes before scenes that we’re going to be difficult for both of us and then going over our lines, rehearsing our lines at night in the rooms that we were given to occupy in this country club and running over all of it and then talking about our own Christian lives. I mean it was a great Christian brotherhood as we filmed…The whole context of the film (was) that we began every day (with) the whole crew – the cameramen, the makeup people, the other actors, everybody  – in prayer, committing it all to The Lord. Many of the extras (and those) doing necessary work off camera were students in the film program at Liberty University not to far (away). Practically everybody on the film was Christian but also experienced in their duties, their level of work.

JWK: To sum up, what do you hope people take from the movie?

PB: I hope that everybody who sees this will realize, first of all, that no matter what our endeavor in life is (or) what our profession that…we’re denying ourselves the greatest blessing in our lives if we don’t live our life with The Lord as our partner – in fact, as (suggest) in our film, as “our caddy,” carrying our clubs, advising us on how to play this shot in our lives and how to come out winners (and) champions.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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