Drive-Away Dolls

Drive-Away Dolls
Drive-Away Dolls
Genre: Action Comedy
Director: Ethan Coen
Release Year: 2024
Runtime: 1h 24m

Look, I know Drive-Away Dolls is not for me. I mean I know that now. So anything and everything that comes after this sentence will be solely from my straight-guy perspective. But also from my Coen Brothers perspective. Because I see a Coen involved in a project and I’m in. Even if it’s the clearly inferior, younger brother, Ethan. Ok, not fair. But I went into this movie expecting some sort of Coen stylized filmmaking and maybe some kookiness. And we got that, for sure. But it came along with what I’ve now read is a 1960s “exploitation film” style that I am not a fan of. No, sir. More specifically, though, it’s a lesbian exploitation style film. A subgenre of a subgenre. Which feels kind of odd for a straight man to be making. Until you look at he and his wife, Tricia Cooke’s, relationship. She’s the lesbian writer behind the lesbian road movie. But is also married to Ethan Coen. Thanks, Internet, for clearing that up for me.

I’m trying to figure out how to comment on this movie without seeming too angry that I wasted an hour and a half of my life watching it. I hated it. There, I said it. It’s a whoops-we-picked-up-the-wrong-suitcase movie. You know how that goes. A couple picks up something — in this case a car — that is meant for someone else. And in that suitcase/car is something illegal and/or important to someone dangerous. So bad guys are sent after that thing that the innocent people are unwittingly toting. It’s that, but incredibly half-assed. And what these people — Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) — are toting is so incredibly stupid. And so offensive to my sensibilities, I can’t even say it in print. But also makes me wonder about lesbian fantasies. Do lesbians dream about a box of perfect dildos — that are actual plaster casts of men’s penises? Sorry, I guess I did say it in print. Literally, the Jamie character is obsessed with a phallus. That’s made out of plaster, I think? Which seems uncomfortable.

Anyway, it feels like Ethan and Tricia did the thing that the Coen Brothers do in their more slapstick-y movies where the plot is kind of secondary and is just a wrapper for fun scenes. The problem here is the “fun” scenes. Once again, I’m not sure lesbian road fantasies are my jam. So basement make-out parties with the high school volleyball team you met in the grocery store isn’t my thing. Graphic sex (for no other reason than to show it) is not my thing. Deflowering your friend because she needs a “positive sexual experience” is also not my thing. And felt a little groom-y, truth be told. The point is that scenes of Qualley and her weird Texas accent (though her mother, Andie MacDowell, has a version of that same accent for real) going a million miles per hour, and the general over-the-top nature of the story and vibe made me want to fling something at the TV. The whole cast is acting in that hyped-up, cartoonish manner that George Clooney affects when he’s in his Coen Brothers wackiness. It’s tough watching that cartoon wolf howl and clack his feet together for an entire film. The only one who is a grounded, real-feeling human is Viswanathan. She’s great. But is, unfortunately, surrounded by a bunch of nonsense. Did I mention I didn’t like it? Well, I didn’t.

Anyhow, it seems I need to be more careful with my movie choices. Maybe I should read things. But I definitely watched the trailer for this film. Did I not catch the theme? Nope, just watched it again and this is not the film I signed up for. Though I guess the highly sexed-up lesbian thing and the rubber dicks would maybe not make it into the non-red-band trailer. So we rely on a bunch of clips of Pedro Pascal running down a street. Those clips are pretty much the sum total of his screentime. Otherwise it’s a bunch of scenes thrown together — none of which are particularly amusing to me — with a tacked-on ending and some credits. Matt Damon does show up to embarrass himself for a little bit. So, that’s fun (but really isn’t). He probably thought he was signing up for a Coen Brothers movie and only realized once he got there that he was actually playing on Ethan Coen’s experimental freak-folk psyche solo album. The whole thing smacks of nepotism in some way or another. Because of brothers. Because of wives. But, ultimately, it’s a D+ version of a carbon-copy of the thing.