Drive Away Dolls (Blu-ray)

Jamie regrets her breakup with her girlfriend, while Marian needs to relax. In search of a fresh start, they embark on an unexpected road trip to Tallahassee. Things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals.

April 17, 2024 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When it comes to the works of Joel and Ethan Coen, one thing can be said – their films are original. These are the duo that brought us Fargo, Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski just to name a few. As I’ve often said in my reviews of their films, while one might not be suited to your particular taste, there’ll likely be another one that will. I feel the same way about Woody Allen’s films. With Drive Away Dolls, things are a bit more…complicated. Ethan Coen is without his brother here, rather working with his wife who has come out as a lesbian. The two also have other partners. That’s real life, of course, but it also serves as the basis for the film, its themes and so much more.

Friends Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) have come into possession of a Wrong Thing. The duo signs up to drive a car from Philadelphia to Tallahassee. And said car is supposed to be picked up by “The Chief” (Coleman Domingo), a fixer who works for a senator (Matt Damon). We know that there’s a very important package in the trunk which is why “The Chief” sends a couple of thugs: Arliss (Joey Slotnick) and Flint (C.J. Wilson) to find the ladies and, of course, get the items in the car’s trunk. All of that takes a backseat, pardon the pun, to the cast, the general ambiance of the film as well as its weird transitions and themes.

How odd does a Coen (I really can’t say “brothers”) film have to be to be considered the “weird” one? This one might just take the cake. If you take elements from some of their previous works, maybe sprinkle a little bit of Thelma & Louise in there and stir – you might just end up with this. I true Coen-fashion it’s a polarizing movie that takes some modern themes and puts a new spin on them. The antiquated stereotypes that seem to dominate movies lately aren’t present here. Ethan Coen wrote the screenplay with his wife, Tricia Cooke, the aforementioned former editor and wife of Coen. If you’re a fan of the Coen style then this one’s got it – in spades. For the masses, however, it might be a bit of a head-scratcher.

Video: How’s it look?

Some of the Coen’s films are bleak. I’m raking my brain to think of a scene in Fargo where there’s an actual amount of color. And I’m drawing a blank. Nevertheless, we find Drive Away Dolls shown in a 1.85:1 AVC HD encode which looks pretty darn snappy. Yes, it’s bursting with color, detail is excellent and even those odd transitions look their best. Being a new-to-the-format disc we know what to expect. There’s really nothing I can find to complain about (not that I was looking for something). It should satisfy.

Audio: How’s it sound?

In what is a bit of a head-scratcher, we find a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix. I don’t know why they didn’t go all the way and just put an Atmos track on there, but it’s really of little consequence. Vocals are pure, rich and clean, surrounds are used surprisingly often and do add some ambiance to what would have otherwise been, lifeless scenes. The Coen’s films don’t really rely on audio all that much, but I found this one to be just a touch better than some of the others. Like the video, it delivers.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • The Drive-Away Gang – Sit down with the cast and filmmakers as they discuss their roles, getting into character, and the exciting cameo appearances.
  • Drive Away Dolls: An Ethan and Tricia Project – Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke discuss what inspired them to write this story, why they waited 20 years to bring it to life, and what it was like working together on a project from start to finish for the first time.
  • Road Trip Essentials – The trio sit down and discuss their “must have” things while on a trip.

The Bottom Line

This one is out there, to be sure. But longtime viewers and fans of the Coen’s style of entertainment will likely eat it up. It’s original and tackles some interesting subjects in a “new” way. Universal’s disc looks and sounds good, though the supplements are a bit on the light side.

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