April 24, 2024

DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS and the Unexpected MacGuffin

2024 / 83 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

Leave it to one of the Coen Brothers (and his wife) to come up with the most unexpected MacGuffin I've ever seen, which I won’t even hint at. But when it’s revealed, chances are you’ll laugh, if for no other reason than Ethan Coen & Tricia Cooke’s audacity. 

Even without Joel co-writing/co-directing, Drive-Away Dolls reflects the brothers’ quirky sensibilities, though even longtime, unsuspecting Coen fans might be initially blindsided. For one thing, the film is raunchy as hell, often hilariously so, though the humor occasionally feels a bit too calculated. Still, we kinda need a movie like this…a screwball comedy featuring two protagonists who happen to be lesbians. Their orientation is certainly part of the narrative, with a ton of jaw-droppingly frank dialogue and ample sex scenes (which are more comedic than erotic), but that isn’t what drives the plot. 

Drive-Away Dolls is a road movie with elements the Coens have visited before. Margaret Qualley & Geraldine Viswanathan play Jamie and Marian, two close friends who take a road trip to Tallahassee in a drive-away car. However, stashed in the trunk is a briefcase containing the aforementioned MacGuffin. The problem is that the car was supposed to be picked up by a couple of criminals to deliver the case to the same town. Those guys, Arliss (Joey Slotnick) and Flint (C.J. Wilson), are ordered by their boss (Colman Domingo) to track the girls down and retrieve the case.

The movie's two clean gags.
Of the two protagonists, Jamie is more free-spirited and uninhibited (to say the least), bent on spending a good deal of this trip hitting lesbian bars while trying to get perpetually-uptight Marian to loosen up a little. During their episodic journey, we get to know both pretty well and their relationship is often amusing, ultimately endearing. Elsewhere, the segments with Arliss and Flint chasing down the girls - usually a step or two behind - are frequently hilarious, while Beanie Feldstein threatens to steal the movie as Jamie's disgruntled ex, Sukie (and she's also a cop).

I’ve avoided specifics because much of what makes Drive-Away Dolls fun is not knowing what’s going to happen next…or what’ll fly out of someone’s mouth, especially Jamie’s. Overall, it’s an entertaining film with excellent performances by the entire cast. Though never quite as clever as the Coens’ best comedies, there are enough oddball characters and off-the-wall moments to remind us who’s behind the camera. 


FEATURETTES - The Drive-Away Gang; Drive-Away Dolls: An Ethan and Tricia Project; Road Trip Essentials.


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