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  • Tyler Harlow

Drive-Away Dolls

Starring: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Colman Domingo, Beanie Feldstein, Bill Camp, Joey Slotnick, C.J. Wilson, Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal

Director: Ethan Coen

With Y2K just around the corner, free-spirited Jamie (Qualley) finds herself at a crossroads in her life. She and her girlfriend Sukie (Feldstein) have just broken up and her friend Marian (Viswanathan) is bored with what her life has become. She and Marian decide to pack up everything and get a drive-away car to Tallahassee. Little do they know, the particular car they have been handed belongs to The Chief (Domingo) who sends his two goons (Slotnick and Wilson) after the girls before they realize what they are transporting is incredibly important to his boss. As their journey to Florida begins to unravel and things go awry they find their friendship being put to the ultimate test.

This marks a new partnership for Director Ethan Coen, as he has moved away from making projects with his brother Joel and is now finding a creative partnership with his wife Tricia Cooke. This might be hard for many to get used to, as the brothers are responsible for many classic and award-winning films (Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski) that have graced cinemas for decades. Known for their witty dialogue and off-kilter sense of humor mixed with violence, the fact that the brothers have decided to move on creatively is sure to worry many who have enjoyed their filmography.

Those who enjoyed movies like Burn After Reading (an underrated movie in the Coen Brothers oeuvre) and The Ladykillers. will find a lot to enjoy here. Filled with clever one-liners, inept criminals and a few shocking scenes of violence, this film keeps its characters and the audience on their toes. The film runs a scant hour and twenty-four minutes and boy does it feel like it. While it makes for a brisk viewing, it leaves little room for character development.

This lack of character development hurts in the long run. With such talented actors in the lead roles it was hard to ultimately care about what was happening because we have little invested in Jamie and Marnie. I did like the evolution of their characters' relationship but it comes so quickly. Qualley and Viswanathan are only so talented but carry the film on charm alone. Even Qualley's relationship with Beanie Feldstein's character is over before we have gotten a chance to be invested. Its unfortunate that a lot of the side characters, as entertaining as they are, ultimately don't get much to do. Joey Slotnick and C.J. Wilson, who play the two bumbling goons chasing the girls, get a lot of the laughs in the film. The longer the chase goes on, the less sleep the characters get and this gives the two actors a lot of opportunities for some good laughs. Slotnick in particular seems to be having the time of his life.

I do wish that the marketing had hid the involvement of a couple actors that appear in the film. Their ultimate involvement is so tiny that I don't think it would have hurt to keep them a secret. There is one that stayed a secret and I am glad because it made me do a double-take when they did come on screen. What I am glad the movie kept a secret was what was being transported by the girls. Knowing what it is, I acknowledge that it would have been hard to reveal it in the marketing but its still a wonderful secret that had me giggling with joy at when it was ultimately revealed.

While it's not as polished as the films with his brother, Ethan Coen and his wife Tricia have crafted an entertaining, if flawed, crime comedy.

Grade: B


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