‘Drive-Away Dolls’ overview: Trashy in a great way

With Drive-Away Dolls, Ethan Coen is fortunately embracing the “trashy” and “silly.” After a long time directing alongside his brother Joel (The Tragedy of Macbeth), he is teamed with long-time Coen Bros collaborator Tricia Cooke, who edited a slew of their movies alongside the siblings, together with O Brother, The place Artwork Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and The Massive Lebowski. And the results of Cooke and Coen’s newest collaboration, which the married couple co-wrote, edited, and directed collectively, is a gleefully outrageous comedy about intercourse, demise, and dildos.

Bursting with stars like Geraldine Viswanathan, Margaret Qualley, Beanie Feldstein, Matt Damon, and Pedro Pascal, Drive-Away Dolls shares some DNA with the Coen Bros.’ finest crime comedies. However underneath Cooke’s affect, there’s some spicy new terrain to be trekked. This film is as racy as IT is unabashedly entertaining. And yeah, some might name IT trashy. However trashy finished proper could be a treasure.


Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke know critics might not get ‘Drive-Away Dolls’

What’s Drive-Away Dolls about? 

Beanie Feldstein plays a tough cop with a broken heart in "Drive-Away Dolls."

Credit score: Focus Options

Impressed by Cooke’s experiences in lesbian bars in her youth, this 1999-set comedy follows two sapphic besties, uptight Marian (Miracle EmployeesGeraldine Viswanathan) and free-spirited Jamie (Sanctuary‘s Margaret Qualley) on a highway journey meant to shake free the rut that has turn into their lives. Nonetheless, what ought to have been a gleeful getaway peppered with hookups and scorching nights turns into intense once they uncover they’ve unintentionally crossed a really highly effective man (Matt Damon in a surly cameo) and his very violent associates (together with Academy Award nominee for Rustin, Colman Domingo). 

Making issues even messier, Jamie’s ex Sukie (Beanie Feldstein on fireplace) is dealing with heartbreak by way of indignation and wrath. So whether or not or not she’ll be a hero or one other foe of their journey is an exhilarating query that may solely be answered exterior a lesbian bar with a gun and a canine named Alice B. Toklas. Naturally. 

Like Elevating Arizona or The Hudsucker Proxy or The Massive Lebowski, Drive-Away Dolls is a story of good-hearted however naive people confronted by conspiracy and mayhem they could not think about. However scripted by Coen and Cooke, there is a distinctive bounciness to the proceedings, which features a shame-free celebration of sapphic lust. 

Drive-Away Dolls is a giddy queer comedy. 

Geraldine Viswanathan and Margaret Qualley star in "Drive-Away Dolls."

Credit score: Focus Options

Followers of Coen Bros banter will thrill over the dialogue, which gives explosions of weird pondering, cheeky rejoinders, and witty wordplay. Garrulous, daffy, and finally daring, the dynamic lesbian duo at its heart match completely within the wider world of H.I., Marge, and even Anton. Qualley and Viswanathan have terrific chemistry and effervescent comedic timing, which makes their odd couple click on from a tossed bag of frozen greens. But on prime of acquainted Coen enjoyable, there is a beneficiant slather of bawdy jokes about intercourse, dildos, and an eccentric historic determine (performed right here by Grammy-winning provocateur Miley Cyrus). 

Simply as O Brother, The place Artwork Thou? ushered audiences into an Odyssean barrage of Southern settings — some charming, some harrowing — Drive-Away Dolls does the identical by way of the lens of its sapphic heroines. Some sequences are set in rainbow-lit bars with physique photographs on the menu. One other scene embeds us in a slumber celebration with a circle of feminine athletes making a recreation of constructing out. Seedy lodge rooms turn into a recurring respite. And when the pair will get to Florida, they drive underneath the unblinking eyes of a conservative politician’s billboard, to which Jamie warns, “Holy shit, Florida. Lesbian, don’t let the solar go down on you right here” — an ominous reminder that not all areas are so protected for ladies who love women. 


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Past these horny (and generally scary) settings, Cooke and Coen additionally loop in a love story that’s foolish however candy. And for Marian, who struggles to flirt — a lot much less fling herself into informal intercourse — colourful flashbacks look fondly again on a primary crush and little bit of peeping-tommery that comes off as extra winsome than worrisome. 

Drive-Away Dolls’ forged kicks ass. 

Joey Slotnick, C.J. Wilson, and Colman Domingo play a trio of baddies in "Drive-Away Dolls."

Credit score: Focus Options

Qualley and Visawathan are an ideal match for Cooke and Coen’s materials, nailing not solely the sharp dialogue and crisp pacing but in addition the bodily comedy, which incorporates mad mugging and the occasional kooky O-face. And they’re surrounded by an unbelievable supporting forged. 

Feldstein is ferocious and humorous as a snarling cop. Domingo has sneering swagger as a mysterious powerful known as The Chief. Joey Slotnick and C.J. Wilson supply a rotted model of the Odd Couple dynamic as a pair of goons; respectively, a gregarious pseudo-intellectual and a growling bruiser. Damon’s function is brief, however IT‘s not the scale that issues right here, as he makes essentially the most out of each body, oozing with a nefarious vanity. Pedro Pascal, web obsession and Final of Us star, is likewise seen little but makes a huge impact, leaning not solely into his talent for broad comedy but in addition his Sport of Thrones previous. 

Final however not least, character actor Invoice Camp shines as a growling grump named Curlie, who runs the automotive rental place the place misadventure kicks off. With a scruffy exhaustion and pesky peccadillos he is fast and grumbling to unfurl, he suits in immediately with the coterie of quirky American retailer clerks who’re a valuable — although usually ignored — factor of Coen Bros iconography. Whereas the main women get essentially the most punchlines, Camp makes his small function rely by respiratory deeply and hilariously as a bone-tired man who’s over this romp earlier than IT‘s even begun. 

Drive-Away Dolls is a deal with for these in search of saucy enjoyable.

Matt Damon plays an American politician with a secret in "Drive-Away Dolls"

Credit score: Focus Options

Thrillingly, Drive-Away Dolls is the place the Coen Bros. aesthetic and queer cinema collide, even with just one bro. Teamed with Cooke, Ethan explores the pleasures to be present in a trashy B-movie plot. Unmoored by the strain to be Oscar materials or a giant summer season blockbuster, this inventive crew comes up with a comedy that brings contemporary dazzle to the underserved subgenre of lesbian laffers. 

Qualley, usually dazzling, is an absolute firecracker as a thrill-seeking wild little one with a coronary heart of gold. Viswanathan performs the straight man, as IT had been, grounding the emotional beats and the life-or-death stakes with an alert anxiousness. Feldstein walks in Holly Hunter’s striding steps, and does so with aplomb. And the remainder of the forged positively crackles. 

The jokes are a pleasure, whether or not they’re born from racing (or racy) repartee, a sultry prop, or a daft plot twist. And general, there’s an exhilarating spontaneity as Cooke and Coen embrace the liberty of a film that does not need to be for everybody.

In the long run, Drive-Away Dolls is a joyous romp, full of enjoyable, intercourse enchantment, and stars. What extra might we ask for at an evening out on the films? 

Drive-Away Dolls is now streaming on Peacock.

UPDATE: Apr. 12, 2024, 10:00 a.m. EDT Drive-Away Dolls was initially reviewed out its theatrical launch on Feb. 23, 2024. The overview has been republished tied to its streaming debut.

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