Star Rating:

Drive-Away Dolls

Director: Ethan Coen

Actors: Margaret Qualley, Annie Gonzalez, Geraldine Viswanathan

Release Date: Friday 22nd September 2023

Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Thriller

Running time: 84 minutes

Jamie (Margaret Qualley) regrets her breakup with her girlfriend (Beanie Feldstein), while Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) needs to relax. In search of a fresh start, they embark on an unexpected road trip to Tallahassee, but things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals (Colman Domingo, Joseph Slotnick, CJ Wilson) seeking to recover a mysterious package locked in the car they're expected to deliver...

'Drive-Away Dolls' is the kind of movie that would most likely become a cult hit were it released twenty-five or thirty years ago. It could easily go alongside a double-bill of queer classics like 'But I'm A Cheerleader' or anything from John Waters circa 'Serial Mom' or 'Cecil B. Demented'. Yet, even then, it's clear that 'Drive-Away Dolls' has less going on than any of these and would ultimately come up short against them. When you look at the likes of 'Bottoms', 'Booksmart' or 'The Favourite', queer comedies have advanced and developed now where the simplicity and the narrowness of 'Drive-Away Dolls' is a fault and not a feature.

For one, the two leads - Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan - have barely any chemistry together, and even though it's a movie about a burgeoning relationship over the course of a caper comedy, it's a vital component that's clearly lacking. As well as this, the exaggerated accent work that Qualley is doing in comparison with the far more restrained Viswanathan starts off kind of funny but quickly becomes tiring and eventually becomes annoying.

That being said, it's the supporting cast in this that does so much more. The ever-reliable Bill Camp turns up as a monotone dispatcher who sends the title characters off on their journey, while Colman Domingo plays a besuited fixer who dispatches a couple of vintage Coen henchmen - played with gusto by CJ Wilson and Joey Slotnick. Cameos along the way include Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, and Miley Cyrus turning up in a pretty interesting role that is revealed along the way. Despite the wealth of talent in the supporting cast, the lead performers that most of the movie is saddled with begins to drag the thing along when sharper comedic talents would know how to make it smoother.

When compared to zanier efforts like 'Raising Arizona' or 'The Ladykillers', 'Drive-Away Dolls' sits more comfortably alongside them than the likes of 'The Big Lebowski' or 'Fargo', but again, it repeatedly comes up short against them. The script is far too slight, and the looseness of it all makes it feel sloppy and slapdash. When compared with how finely tuned and elegantly made the aforementioned works were, 'Drive-Away Dolls' feels like it's being deliberately grungy. It may find an audience somewhere along the way, but 'Drive-Away Dolls' may have run out of fuel by the time anyone gets there.