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Anti-DeSantis ‘Drive-Away Dolls’ Is a Massive Flop

Mind behind lesbian road trip comedy reveals inspiration behind key character

The Coen brothers aren’t renowned for their box office might.

Their canon is adored for its quirky style, mature themes and Oscar-worthy sophistication. Still, some of their films have sold tickets in a big way.

  • No Country for Old Men” (2007) – $74 million US
  • Burn After Reading” (2008) – $60 million US
  • True Grit” (2010) – $171 million US

When brother Ethan Coen recently took a break from his decades-long partnership with Joel he teamed with his wife instead. Tricia Cooke, an editor on multiple Coen brothers films, turned their first collaboration into a politically-charged affair.

“Drive-Away Dolls” eschews the brothers’ apolitical work, hammering a (presumably) conservative politician played by Matt Damon.

That was no accident.

The film is a glorious whoop for personal and sexual freedom that raises two fingers at the sort of repressive social values that, particularly in this election year, can be found blaring from billboards along the highways of the Republican American south. Matt Damon plays a hypocritical senator. “We looked at a lot of Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio photographs when coming up with his look,” says Cooke. “And that was very present in our minds… how can we thumb our nose at all of those Florida politicians?”

Cooke told Gay City News how far the project went to target Florida Republicans.

At one point, we had a title card that read “Say Gay” at the end of the movie. It’s a middle finger in the air to conservative politicians in Florida.

Note: The so-called “don’t say gay” bill referenced by the filmmaker is nothing of the kind.

Except very few people have seen her anti-Republican romp.

Drive-Away Dolls” has made just $5 million at the US box office since its Feb. 22 debut.

The film follows two friends (Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan) driving south to Florida while unknowingly targeted by mobsters.

DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS - Official Trailer [HD] - Only In Theaters February 23

Critics were inexplicably kind to the film, although its 64 percent “fresh” score at Rotten Tomatoes is a far cry from what the Coen brothers collectively rate. World of Reel says “Dolls” has a lower site score than any Coen brothers film save “The Ladykillers.”

The tale of the tape lies in the audience reaction.


Theater goers slammed the film with a 36 percent “rotten” score and a “C” Cinemascore.

At least the far-Left CNN enjoyed the film. The site called the movie “DeSantis’ worst fear.”

“Drive-Away Dolls” takes place 20 years before DeSantis’ regime of smug hate locked in. But the film still gets energy and mileage from the sense that just showing queer people driving and living and being horny in Florida is a bit of rainbow glitter thrown into the law’s toothy smirk.

The Upside to the ‘Drive-Away Dolls’ Box Office Results

Focus Features won’t lose a mint on the film. One report put the movie’s budget in the $20 million range. The overseas sales have proved anemic, but the film’s swift shift to VOD could help the studio recoup some of its costs.

It still marks a stunning failure for Ethan Coen and another sign that when storytellers put politics first the results often suffer.

The Oscar-winner seemed uncomfortable discussing the film’s political leanings. When pressed on the issue by The Guardian, he bobs and weaves like Muhammad Ali in his prime.

When I suggest that Drive-Away Dolls carries a strong political message, Coen goes evasively runic: “Strong? It is and it isn’t. It’s a movie kind of with nothing on its mind, but also with everything on its mind. OK. And I won’t disavow it. You can have nothing and everything on your mind.”


  1. Funny thins is that former Washington Beacon critic Sonny Bunch calls it an instant classic. I don’t expect all “conservative “ critics to walk in lock step, but he refuses to acknowledge wokeness in his reviews. His articles discussing the lack of success of the MCU films never discusses the fact that the movies purposely depict the male super heroes as weak and ineffectual. If he is not going to give a honest, conservative prospective, he is just another critic.

  2. I guess that’s what happens when a filmmaker abandons his brother/business partner to make a propaganda movie solely to appease his lesbian wife who never sleeps with him. (Seriously, look up their relationship, it’s insane.)

  3. So what’s the movie about? Lesbians and mobsters and a Florida Republican politician. So what’s the plot? Get DeSantis. Got it.

  4. being called out as pedo-adjacent groomers during the Parental Rights in Edu bill debate musta stung a bit.

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