Friday, February 23, 2024

Drive-Away Dolls

Every bit as hilarious and head-scratchingly lovable as we've come to expect from a Coen. Made for fans of the Coen Brothers looking to see how Ethan does on his own.

Rated R for crude sexual content, full nudity, language and some violent content.

Drive-Away Dolls

One of the best parts about a new Coen Brothers release is that you never know what you’re going to get. Will it be zany—The Big Lebowski, The Hudsucker Proxy—or Oscar bait—Fargo, No Country for Old Men. With the Coens taking some time off to embark on their own adventures, the differences between Ethan’s Drive-Away Dolls vs Joel’s The Tragedy of Macbeth might be more telling on which brother had a heavier hand in which films over their career.

Harkening back to their Raising Arizona days—but splashed with just the right amount of Burn After Reading—audiences are in for a huge treat with Drive-Away Dolls. Partnering up with his wife, Tricia Cooke, Ethan sets his own course in a madcap screwball adventure that also gives a wink or two to their work on the Sam Raimi-directed/co-written masterpiece, Crimewave.

Our dynamic duo—Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan)—are dealing with some issues. Jamie has recently broken up with her girlfriend, Sukie (Beanie Feldstein), and Marian needs to find a way to just chill out. When the two decide to hit the road to Tallahassee to visit Marian’s aunt, they get more than they bargained for with a group of henchmen in tow. For little do they know what secrets reside in the trunk of their driveaway car. Now, they’re on a cross country crash course of shenanigans while destiny awaits.

Knowing as little as possible going in could wind up ruining the film as you may not be ready for the tone. One watch of the trailer will tell you all you need to know. And I loved every minute of it. Qualley and Viswanathan play incredibly off each other, breathing life to every quip and monologue in the Coen/Cooke screenplay. It’s kind of funny that they set the film in 1999, because it affects absolutely nothing within the plot, but it sure does make the film feel like a product of its time. Just when we thought they don’t make ’em like the Coens used to, Ethan manages to prove us wrong.

The supporting cast are just as hilarious, if not maybe more so, than the leads. Colman Domingo spectacularly leads the ring of bad guys as Chief, and manages to unsurprisingly steal every scene he’s in. With wackiness ensuing, all the Coen trademarks are on full display, right up to what may wind up as the year’s most hilarious, yet head-scratching macguffin. Along with some bizarre, but hilarious, cameos.

Bursts of violence are played for both laughs and shock value, but it all plays out in a blazingly fast 84 minutes. Considering how many films think they need to be at least three hours long these days, Ethan deserves some kind of award for the runtime alone. Drive-Away Dolls may wind up being one of this year’s underseen comedies, but it’ll find its audience—the same way every Coen movie does. It’s always nice to be on the frontlines to spread the word early. It doesn’t aim to be one of the year’s best films, but it sure will be one of the funniest.

4 out of 5

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