San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

San Diego's Morning News with Ted and LaDona

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At The Movies With Josh: Drive Away Dolls

The strangest thing happened at the screening for this movie. It’s the first time in years that I went in not knowing anything about the film. About halfway through I said to my wife, “They’re trying too hard to be a Coen brothers movie.”

Like a lot of movies these days, there were no credits in the beginning. Yet at the end, I saw it was written and directed by a Coen – Ethan (who co-wrote it with his wife Tricia Cooke, who has worked with the Coen brothers on many previous films). Funny that his brother Joel’s first solo outing was Shakespeare (the disappointing “Tragedy of MacBeth”). Ethan went old-school Coen with his picture.

This has the feel of some of the funny Coen brothers films I’ve loved – Raising Arizona, Burn After Reading, and Fargo (especially with the two bumbling idiot bad guys). Part of the problem is that we’ve seen these types of things before. Even the two bad guys saying goofy things, and getting yelled at by their boss on the phone (the always excellent Colman Domingo) – reminded me of “Midnight Run.” Yet every scene they were in was hysterical, so I didn’t mind. Now, all the dildos they showed – got old quick. The Coens did a scene with one brilliantly in “Burn After Reading”. George Clooney’s character is a sex addict, and we don’t know what he’s making in his basement. When we see this crazy looking torture device, and it has one in the middle of the seat, it’s a hysterical visual. In this movie, none of them ever made me laugh. Yet that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh during the movie. There were lots and lots of funny moments, and my wife and I ended up enjoying this crazy ride.

The story has Jamie (nepo baby Margaret Qualley, daughter of Andie MacDowell) and her girlfriend (Beanie Feldstein, sister of Jonah Hill) breaking up. Jamie wants to get out of town, and her best friend (also a lesbian) was planning to go to Tallahassee. Friend Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) is a buttoned-up, smart character, that doesn’t like the cursing and craziness of Jamie (you wonder why they’re even friends). It is hard to take Jamie, with her Texas drawl and rapid-fire commentary. Less of her in the movie, and more of the interesting supporting characters, would’ve improved the film tremendously.

My favorite scene is when Marian is wearing a business suit to a lesbian bar, watching Jamie get rowdy onstage. A woman comes up to her asking why she’s dressed like that. Marian responds, “I just came from work.” The woman retorts, “I came from Toledo. I don’t dress like it.” To which a straight-laced Marian responds, “I’m not here to peddle my wares.”

There might not be a funnier scene on screen all year.

When the two go to pick up a car, it’s from a character at a car rental place that’s just perfect. A typical Coen brothers character. Curlie is played by Bill Camp, and he’s grumpy. When the bad guy calls him and says a certain car has to go to two people that will pick it up and take it to Tallahassee, he just assumes it’s these two girls that show up going to the same place in Florida. They’re given the pivotal car not knowing what’s hidden in the trunk. That means the bad guys end up after them. They eventually open the suitcase and bag in the trunk, and you think it’s going to be like “Kiss Me Deadly” (or for you younger folks, the suitcase in “Pulp Fiction.”). They look shocked by what’s inside, which we don’t see. But you’ll see it soon enough.

Watching the two thugs (Joey Slatkin and C.J. Wilson), as they argue over the best way to get information from people, is a blast.

There are these psychedelic, hallucinogenic scenes that keep popping up that were utterly ridiculous. When we finally see it’s Miley Cyrus in them, that’s kind of fun. And I was wondering if anyone that doesn’t know ‘60s rock history would know there really was a pair of groupies that did what she was doing (to a young politician who is played by Matt Damon, in what is basically a cameo). If you want to really break down what it was all these people were after in the suitcase, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I won’t spoil the reasons as to why.

I’ve seen a lot of critics compare this to “Bottoms” which came out last year, since that was a raunchy comedy that also featured a lot of lesbians. It’s strange that both movies had such an unlikable lead character, it made me like the films a bit less. Yet both movies have enough laughs that I think people will enjoy them (if the subject matter isn’t a bit much for them).

Pedro Pascal also has a small role in the beginning, but keeps “popping up” throughout the film.

3 stars out of 5.

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