Drive-Away Dolls (2024)

by | Mar 16, 2024 | Movie Reviews, New In Theaters, New On Streaming/Digital | 0 comments

Drive-Away Dolls is an extremely raunchy and sporadically entertaining lesbian road trip comedy from one half of the Coen Brothers! In his first solo directing venture Ethan Coen and his producing partner/life partner Tricia Cooke have co-written this tale together, bringing both of their worlds and comedic stylings to a film that certainly feels like a mashup of two different minds. While I’m glad the brothers are giving themselves the space and time to do independent projects, I can’t help but feel that the two of them would’ve been able to salvage more of this story and take it in a more defined direction.

Drive-Away Dolls

On the verge of Y2K, Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) couldn’t be in more different places in their lesbian love lives. While Jamie has no problem dating and sleeping around, Marian is far more reserved and thus has gone a while without being with another woman. Jamie decides they’ll rent a car and head to Florida to get laid, which was almost a perfect plan until they ended up in a car meant for some shady people. While trying to figure out their romantic and sexual lives, the two women must also avoid the goofy henchmen who are coming after them for the secrets that lie in a briefcase they accidentally acquired!

Admittedly, my first reaction to Drive-Away Dolls was one of surprise and occasional enjoyment, mostly since I found it odd how focused the film was on all things lesbian and was written by a man. I only found that odd because I didn’t realize Ethan Coen co-wrote the script with his lesbian and queer wife, which upon learning made me feel much more comfortable with the jokes and subject matter the film often tackles. I also just didn’t know quite what I was getting into with this film and at only around 85 minutes, I felt the film quite didn’t know what it wanted to get into either.

Bearing all the markings of a Coen Brothers film, Drive-Away Dolls is packed with everything from hilarious bumbling henchmen to bursts of violence which truly stand out in a film filled with shocking moments. Joey Slotnick and C.J. Wilson’s banter throughout their endeavors to retrieve the case are among the film’s funniest and strongest moments, tapping into the absurdly specific writing that works so well for Coen’s style. Beanie Feldstein also commands the screen and your laughter every time she makes her brief, but wonderful appearances throughout the film.

As big a fan as I am of Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan, I have to say that they’re unfortunately the least interesting parts of this mostly wandering movie. Qualley is saddled with a stereotypical southern accent that’s less drawl than it is silly sounding, and it unfortunately sticks with her for the whole film. Viswanathan plays dull well enough, but her character and arc never feel fulfilled and the endings for both girls feel forced as a result of rushing to wrap things up. Their more dramatic moments together are great, however they feel as if they belong in a different film that follows a completely different story.

Drive-Away Dolls has all the makings of a great comedy that are stuck buried under a roaming narrative that never fully capitalizes on all the talent in the film. The spurts of pure comedy are too few and far between to rescue the would-be dramatic portions of the film. If they cut the trippy visuals that don’t serve much of a purpose, they could’ve had a pretty decent short film if they rounded out the main characters story a bit more. While still worth a watch if only for a quick laugh, Drive-Away Dolls isn’t quite the first solo venture that The Tragedy of Macbeth turned out to be Ethan’s brother Joel (though he benefited from having stellar source material).

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