Pin It

Drive-Away Dolls is charming but lightweight 

Ethan Coen directs this queer comedy co-written with his wife, Tricia Cooke, about free-spirited Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and her uptight friend, Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan), who decide to take an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee, but they inadvertently take a "drive-away" car—a vehicle the driver agrees to transport like a courier to avoid the expense of renting a car—meant for someone else, and soon they're pursued by a cadre of inept criminals the car was meant for. (84 min.)

click to enlarge HOT TAMALE On a road trip to Tallahassee, Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) discover their rental car contains contraband sought by criminals, in Drive-Away Dolls, screening in local theaters. - COURTESY PHOTO BY WILSON WEBB/FOCUS FEATURES
  • Courtesy Photo By Wilson Webb/Focus Features
  • HOT TAMALE On a road trip to Tallahassee, Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) discover their rental car contains contraband sought by criminals, in Drive-Away Dolls, screening in local theaters.

Glen If you're in the mood for a lightweight absurdist comedy about odd-couple lesbians, their impromptu crime caper, its connection to political corruption, and a road trip that feels like it goes nowhere, this might do the trick. I, however, was expecting something more substantial than this amuse-bouche. Part of the film's limited fun is the MacGuffin at its center, a silver attaché case Jamie and Marian find in their drive-away car. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen them open the case in a café and gaze in wonder at its contents. Unlike most MacGuffins (think Marsellus Wallace's attaché in Pulp Fiction), we learn what's inside, and it's central to the story, but revealing its contents would ruin it for you. It's right about then in the plot that the film begins to perk up. Its first act felt overwritten and too enraptured with its own cleverness, the second act felt like filler. By the third act, I began to like the film more, but overall, it's an underwhelming effort from a Coen brother.

Anna While filled with charm, Jamie is an exhausting character. She's very fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, especially in comparison to Marian, whose reserved nature sits on the surface of a pot ready to boil over. You're right—the first half felt long, but luckily it picked up and had a fun back half. This definitely had some of the Coen brand going for it, but it lacked a bit in comparison to the films the Coen brothers made working as a duo. There were also moments of psychedelic animation that I guess I can tie to a story element, but they just sort of felt like unconnected filler. I liked the story and the adventure the two were on, I just didn't love it. I do have to mention Beanie Feldstein as Sukie, Jamie's ex-girlfriend and a cop, and the two bumbling fools (Joey Slotnick and CJ Wilson) tasked with finding Jamie and Marian—or at least the attaché case they're driving around. These characters filled in a lot of the fun in the storyline.

Glen Feldstein is a highlight, to be sure. She's got great comic timing. The two mismatched leads are also engaging in their different ways, and it's satisfying to watch their relationship deepen. And the cast has some heavy hitters, including Pedro Pascal (briefly in the first act), Bill Camp (in a role whose thread is left dangling), and Matt Damon (briefly in the last act). I wish the film had more depth, but it seemed to move from one moment to the next without purpose. I mean, what was the point of the goons looking for the girls in Slappy's juke joint? Was it just for color, same as the psychedelic montages that include a cameo by Miley Cyrus? If you're going to see it, my advice is to smoke some weed first.

Anna Yep, this is the perfect time to pop that edible and head to the theater. It's funny and refuses to pretend it's something serious, and I'm OK with that. It did feel like the cameos were there for a bit of show, and yes, Pascal and Damon were the setup and conclusion to the film, but the heart of it rested with Jackie—and, I'll argue, even more with Miriam, who experiences the most self-discovery. This film works if you need a quick and quirky road trip romp. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Comment at [email protected].


Pin It

Latest in Movies


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Search, Find, Enjoy

Submit an event

Trending Now