The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | ‘Drive-Away Dolls’ brings LGBTQ+ spin to road trip comedy

With a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Pedro Pascal and Miley Cyrus, ‘Drive-Away Dolls’ breathes fresh air into a tired trope.
Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY
Feb 9, 2020; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Margaret Qualley arrives at the 92nd Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre.

Acclaimed filmmaker Ethan Coen debuted his first solo project over the weekend with the road trip crime comedy “Drive-Away Dolls.” As the film opens on Pedro Pascal nervously staring at his analog watch through orange-tinted glasses, it was easy to discern I was in for a wacky ride.

This lesbian road-trip comedy meets crime mystery stars Margaret Qualley as the very recently single, wild-spirited Jamie, and her best friend, played by Geraldine Viswanathan, the self-preserved, “uptight” Marian.

The duo starts their journey shortly after the opening scene, in 1999 Philadelphia, with Marian wanting to get away to visit her aunt down south and Jamie needing an escape to anywhere; they then set their sights set on Tallahassee.

As the pair decide to head south using a drive-away service, they are now in charge of delivering a stranger’s car to Tallahassee. A mix-up happens though, and the duo is given the wrong vehicle to transport; they now unknowingly carry a mysterious, valuable briefcase and a glowing, smoking box.

The two are soon off, having only one day to bring the car to the designated location. While Marian wants to ensure the vehicle is delivered to its destination on time, Jamie insists the two make “essential” pit stops at BBQ joints and lesbian bars, all while being tracked by inept criminals who are after the vehicle’s hidden items.

Star-studded cameos from Pedro Pascal, Miley Cyrus, and Matt Damon fill out the cast. While all these characters spend a short time on screen, they all feel like fleshed-out characters, written in a way that feels justified for their brief screen time.

Beanie Feldstein also joins the comedy, playing Sukie, the scorned cop and ex-girlfriend of Jamie. Her character is a fun addition to the film, running on pure determination that her ex, Jamie, gets her comeuppance.

Scenes segue to the next with 1970s-inspired psychedelic edits throughout the movie. The silly transitions help to give off a separate vibe from the noir-crime movies that Coen attempts to satirize in the film.

The film does earn its R-rating as the story slowly becomes more of a raunchy, crude sex comedy that is determined not to take itself too seriously.

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Throughout the film, Jamie is set on bringing her fellow lesbian bestie, Marian, outside of her shell. While Marian would rather read Henry James than participate in Jamie’s sexual shenanigans, we see flashbacks of Marian’s self-realization regarding her budding sexuality.

The two main leads’ relationship blossoms throughout the story as they fall into continuous hijinks and goofiness. They have undeniable chemistry.

The film’s backdrop is a Y2K-era-America with political undertones evident throughout the film, while also looking at the limited lesbian bar scene in the conservative south. These unique environments offer a fresh perspective on the genre.

While the film has a short run time of only 84 minutes, it packs a quick punch of charm and wit during its swift run.

“Drive-Away Dolls” is now playing in theaters.

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