Drive-Away Dolls

Verdict: Drive-Away Dolls is a weird head-scratcher that is tonally all over the place and not as funny as it should be

  • Pedro Pascal, Matt Damon, Margaret Qualley, Annie Gonzalez.
  • March 15th 2024
  • Ethan Coen

Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan play best friends who accidentally drive away in a rental car meant for criminals.

After years and years of directing films with his brother Joel Coen, Ethan Coen has released his first solo narrative feature Drive-Away Dolls.

The comedy caper, written by Coen and his wife Tricia Cooke, stars Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan as Jamie and Marian, two lesbian besties who decide to take a road trip from Philadelphia to Florida.

Due to a misunderstanding at the rental car depot, they are given a vehicle intended for a trio of criminals and drive away with a suspicious suitcase in the boot.

While Drive-Away Dolls looks like a fun crime caper, it’s actually more of a romantic comedy, with the cat-and-mouse chase as a wacky subplot. The potential is there for a wild, entertaining ride, but it is tonally all over the place and the script is frustratingly undercooked and not funny enough.

To maintain the bizarre vibe, Coen peppers odd psychedelic dream sequences throughout the film, even though they serve no real purpose, and uses unusual and quirky transitions between scenes.

While there are plenty of other characters in the mix, the film is all about Jamie and Marian, who are polar opposites personality-wise. It’s hard to believe that they’re close friends but their differences make sense for comedy purposes.

Jamie is a talkative and forever horny Texan who likes to hook up and then talk about her encounters in explicit detail. Qualley is on scene-stealing form as the loud and proud Jamie, so it’s a shame that she is held back by the patchy script. She could have been hilarious!

Marian is reserved, shy and sexually inactive and this causes great conflict and friction between the duo.

They have some great support from the likes of Beanie Feldstein as Jamie’s angry ex Sukie, Colman Domingo as the Chief, the head of the goons, and Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon (who have small roles that shouldn’t be spoiled).

Drive-Away Dolls is a weird head-scratcher of a film – it’s a mystery why these great parts didn’t amount to a satisfying, entertaining whole.

In cinemas from Friday 15th March.

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