[Courtesy of Focus Features]

Movie Review: Drive-Away Dolls

07:00 February 26, 2024
By: David Vicari

Drive-Away Dolls (2024)

Ethan Coen, sans brother Joel, directs Drive-Away Dolls, a caper comedy about two lesbians who unwittingly transport a package that belongs to the mob. Jamie (Margaret Qualley) is a free spirit who has just broken up with her girlfriend (Beanie Feldstein), and Jamie's best friend, Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan), is an office worker who is uptight and tragically single. The two friends decide to take an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee, Florida. However, the car rental guy (Bill Camp) screws up and gives the girls a car that contains a briefcase that was supposed to be picked up by gangsters. So two inept (is there any other?) henchmen (Joey Slotnick and C.J. Wilson) are in pursuit of the girls.

Drive-Away Dolls is written by Ethan Coen and his wife Tricia Cook, who also serves as the film's editor. Even though Joel Coen isn't involved here, there was a hope that it would be somewhat of a return to the Coen brothers' earlier zaniness like Raising Arizona (1987) or O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). That was probably too much to hope for, because Drive-Away Dolls just doesn't work.

The movie is frustrating in its execution. Occasionally the dialog is amusing, but most of the time, the verbal jokes don't land. The same can be said for the visual gags. The cuts to the visual jokes almost always come too late.

A chase comedy like this should have a high energy, so it's odd that the pacing is so sluggish. Seriously, this picture runs only 84-minutes but actually feels like it was clocking in around two-hours.

Now, Qualley and Viswanathan are very good in their roles. They made their characters very likable, and their relationship in the movie is sweet. Maybe Drive-Away Dolls would have worked if the filmmakers went for just a funny character study and dropped the chase/caper subplot.

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