‘Drive-Away Dolls’ – Ethan Coen Goes Solo (And Pathetically Woke)

If there's a worse movie hitting theaters in 2024, we'd hate to see it

Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” inspired a flood of flashy copy-cats.

His imitators aped his blend of hot action and cool banter. Suffice it to say few could come close to the real deal.

That’s being generous.

“Drive-Away Dolls” plays like a facsimile of a Coen brothers romp. Quirky dialogue. Spastic action. Southern twang talk. It’s just as shallow, if not worse than the weakest Tarantino clones.

Now comes the shocking part. Ethan Coen co-wrote and directed this monumental misfire.

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

Jamie and Marian (Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan) couldn’t be more different. Jamie is the ultimate hedonist, seeking 24/7 pleasure from an endless string of female partners). Marian is more reserved, preferring to read Henry James and wait for the right girl to come along.

Jamie ignores her friend’s desires and drags her hither and yon for sexual hookups. Along the way they decide to head south to visit Jamie’s Aunt in Tallahassee. To get there, they use a “drive-along” service which lets them borrow a car.

A mixup finds the duo transporting a sought-after package of unknown origin. Before long a pair of dim-witted thugs are on the women’s trail.

“Drive-Away Dolls” wraps in just 84 minutes, but the film feels at least twice that long. It’s chockablock with filler, from ‘60s-style interstitials to interminable scenes of women making out and/or having sex.

It’s 2024. There’s nothing novel or shocking about the latter.

The film’s many sex scenes add nothing to the plot or the characters in question. Marian gets not one but two flashbacks of her as a teen discovering her attraction to women.

Fine. Except we already know she’s a lesbian. She’s not shy about it, just shy about her dating mores. So these scenes add nothing to the story.

And they have plenty of company.

Drive-Away Dolls Movie Clip - Don’t Call Me Curlie (2024)

Other sequences make no sense. One character is pulled over by a cop for no reason whatsoever. What’s the charge … Walking While Woman?

One explanation? We need to make our heroines into … victims.

Matt Damon (barely) appears in the film as a “family values” politician, code for eeee-vil Republican hypocrite. Except he’s on screen for all of five minutes, and the screenplay can’t flesh him out in any manner.

It’s lazy virtue signaling for an audience eager for vapid, on-screen empowerment.

Yes, a Coen brother went woke. Sigh.


“Dolls” is obsessed with sex. Endless scenes feature women engaging in oral sex, swapping makeout partners or otherwise fixated on the subject. A savvy film would hint at all of the above, not repeatedly stop the story cold to linger over these moments.

The MacGuffin reveal is so dumb it sinks whatever integrity the movie had up until that point. It’s a sign that the filmmakers don’t care about anything above the story’s empowerment shtick.

It gets worse.

The film’s bumbling goons are bloodthirsty or restrained, all depending on the scene in question. They bicker endlessly and nothing they say is enlightening or amusing. It’s just noise.

The man behind the thuggery, initially played with promise by Colman Domingo, loses any menace he flashed earlier in the film.

Need another annoying character who lacks purpose, humor and consistency? Beanie Feldstein plays Jamie’s ex-lover and a police officer. The film slumps whenever she’s on screen, and that’s saying something since the film exists in a perpetual slump.

On paper, “Drive-Away Dolls” is a raunchy, hilarious caper, the kind that zips by with witty exchanges and toe-curling action. Making the protagonists lesbians adds something new to the formula.

On screen, the laughs are few, the pacing is sluggish and the characters are uniformly grating.


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We’ll end the review with a tiny spoiler because this film richly deserves it.

Our heroines meet an older, God-fearing black woman late in the film, and they explain why they’ve decided to move north once their vacation ends. Their destination state allows for same-sex marriages (even though the story is set in 1999 and that wasn’t true at the time).

The film previously suggested people of faith are bad with a capital “B” courtesy of Damon’s character. This particular character is black, so she must have the “right” opinion on gay marriage. So she smiles and suggests that changing mores is a good thing.

This critic isn’t personally weighing in on gay marriage, pro or con. Just noting that to be true to the character’s faith and generation would likely mean she’d reject it on some level.

That’s how woke storytelling works. Or, to be more accurate, doesn’t.

HiT or Miss: “Drive-Away Dolls” is a career low for Ethan Coen and a disaster for anyone expecting the breezy romp the subject matters implies.


  1. You weigh in on all things gay with your sympathetic, no-big-deal attitude about the presence of homosexuality in all your reviews, especially the Billy Eichner movie, “Bros”. So might as well be upfront.

  2. Anybody going into this movie and not expecting a massive overload of male-bashing really didn’t know what they were signing up for.

    1. Bashing men? This film is not interested in bashing men. Men are of very little concern in this movie about lesbians. Just because you are not reflected in the main characters of this film does not mean you can’t relate to the human feelings and experiences in this film. If you think this movie is bashing men, you are looking for a reason to be upset or didn’t watch it.

      1. Fair enough. I have not seen it nor will I, therefore I stand corrected. Thank you Alex.

  3. So a movie about a white man’s take on lesbians. So, white men are bad, but a white man can write and direct a film about lesbians and that okay? I’m confused how the left think.

    The movie sounds like it has stereotypes about how lesbians act, it almost sounds like a parady, strong gay black woman and all. I would almost think this movie was a parody if the left had a sense of humor and any self awareness. Instead, just another movie nobody will watch, including the left.

    At this point, I’m pretty sure Hollywood is just a money laundering scheme because they clearly don’t care about making money.

      1. So you are saying Ethan Coen’s wife, Tricia Cooke is a lesbian? Was this before or after she gave birth to their two kids? Maybe do some research before running your mouth. So a straight white male and his straight wife wrote and directed a lesbian film.

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