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Drive-Away Dolls (2024) (1 Viewer)

TonyD

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Oh right I remember her now. Didn’t recognize her name.
 

Jake Lipson

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Variety said:
Focus Features is releasing “Drive-Away Dolls” in 2,261 North American theaters, where it’s expected to bring in $2 million. The film is getting a much larger footprint than the average specialty release. Focus, which produced the queer crime caper with Working Title, opted for a bigger theater count in response to the lack of fresh product in the marketplace.


A $2 million start in wide release seems really low for a Coen Brother movie.

Joel's last movie, The Tragedy of Macbeth, had a very small theatrical release but was mostly a streaming play for Apple. Joel and Ethan's last movie together, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, was for Netflix. I don't know how widely that one played in theaters, but given Netflix's attitudes, I'm guessing it wasn't significant. Even my arthouse which occasionally gets Netflix stuff did not play that one.

The last time the Coen Brothers had a film with a full theatrical release was Hail, Caesar! back in 2016. It opened with $11 million on its way to $30 million domestic. If Drive-Away Dolls meets its $2 million opening projection, it might not even match the opening of Hail, Caesar! during its theatrical window. Universal will almost surely send it to streaming after 17 days, as they typically do now for movies that open to less than $50 million. I know Drive-Away Dolls is only one Coen Brother instead of two Coen Brothers, but still. I'm surprised that it isn't making more noise. And what exactly did the delay from September to February accomplish if it is only expected to open in the $2 million range? I doubt it would have been able to open much lower last fall. Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing it and hope it somehow manages to find an audience.
 

TravisR

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A $2 million start in wide release seems really low for a Coen Brother movie.

Joel's last movie, The Tragedy of Macbeth, had a very small theatrical release but was mostly a streaming play for Apple. Joel and Ethan's last movie together, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, was for Netflix. I don't know how widely that one played in theaters, but given Netflix's attitudes, I'm guessing it wasn't significant. Even my arthouse which occasionally gets Netflix stuff did not play that one.

The last time the Coen Brothers had a film with a full theatrical release was Hail, Caesar! back in 2016. It opened with $11 million on its way to $30 million domestic. If Drive-Away Dolls meets its $2 million opening projection, it might not even match the opening of Hail, Caesar! during its theatrical window. Universal will almost surely send it to streaming after 17 days, as they typically do now for movies that open to less than $50 million. I know Drive-Away Dolls is only one Coen Brother instead of two Coen Brothers, but still. I'm surprised that it isn't making more noise. And what exactly did the delay from September to February accomplish if it is only expected to open in the $2 million range? I doubt it would have been able to open much lower last fall. Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing it and hope it somehow manages to find an audience.
Even if the movie is great, I think there are multiple reasons for a small box office. There's the standard reason of streaming having ruined the financial prospects of movies like this. I saw the trailer last week and I could be wrong but I don't remember any "From a writer/director of Fargo, The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona" so I guess they're not trading on that. And then there's the sexuality of the characters. I would imagine that there's a decent chunk of the potential audience that, even if they aren't aggressive towards the topic, won't go because of a mentality of "That's for them and not me".
 

Jason_V

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I'm going to this tonight, not because I'm dying to see it. More like it's the only thing playing I haven't already seen OR wouldn't walk out of. We'll see what happens...
 

Malcolm R

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Joel and Ethan's last movie together, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, was for Netflix. I don't know how widely that one played in theaters,

Box Office​

Although Netflix does not disclose box office results, IndieWire tracked reserved online seating sales and deduced The Ballad of Buster Scruggs made $6,600 on its first day from its Los Angeles and New York City locations. It then estimated the film made about $36,000 in its opening weekend, for a four-day total of around $45,000. Had the results been made official, the debut per-venue estimates of $12,000 would have ranked as the lowest of the Coen Brothers' career. (Wikipedia)
 

Bryan^H

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Box Office​

Although Netflix does not disclose box office results, IndieWire tracked reserved online seating sales and deduced The Ballad of Buster Scruggs made $6,600 on its first day from its Los Angeles and New York City locations. It then estimated the film made about $36,000 in its opening weekend, for a four-day total of around $45,000. Had the results been made official, the debut per-venue estimates of $12,000 would have ranked as the lowest of the Coen Brothers' career. (Wikipedia)
But isn't that a result of Netflix? You can't make good money if you don't have the movie playing in theaters all across the U.S.

I'm a huge Richard Linklater fan, and I'm angered as to how his last movie was treated. Netflix basically own him, and I'm not happy about it. His deal sure, but maybe it is because there aren't a lot of options from major studios these days. To see his films, you need Netflix.
 

Malcolm R

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Perhaps, but the per-theater average for a Coen Bros film playing in NYC and LA was very, very low. It was never going to be a blockbuster in limited release, but there are limited releases that routinely have per-theater averages of $50,000 or more when playing in just single digits of theaters.

The figures for Scruggs are extrapolated from limited available data, but their best estimate of only $12,000 per theater isn't good.
 

Jake Lipson

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To see his films, you need Netflix.
That's just how Netflix works. I don't like it either, but they have made very clear that wide theatrical releases are not part of their business model.
 

Jason_V

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Super happy to report I thought Drive-Away Dolls is an absolute riot and loved everyone second of it. It doesn't go where you expect it to go, has plenty of great comedy moments and is just plain fun. It's not for everyone and I would never recommend my parent see it. But, if the trailer caught my husband's attention, I'd be happy to see it again.

The last few lines in the movie got a good laugh from my audience, considering we're in Florida...

When Jamie and Marion get into the car with Marion's aunt, Jamie mentions they're going to Massachusetts. Aunt asks what do they have that Northern Florida doesn't. The answer is women can get married. To each other.

That had me rolling in my seat.
 

Josh Dial

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I watched this tonight and quite liked it.

The cameos were fun, the script was witty, the performances were great (both Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan were good delivering the Coen-style dialogue), and the directing was solid. Without knowing ahead of time you could definitely tell five minutes in that this was a Coen/Cooke movie. Really good "classic Coen" pair of criminals in this.

The interstitials reminded me of French New Wave--like something Godard would do.

The colour grading was gentle but interesting. The way the light hit the actors' faces reminded me a bit of Dial "M" For Murder. There was a certain quality about the lighting that may everyone's skin look really nice.

I'm looking forward to picking this up on physical media and watching it again.
 

Jake Lipson

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From Deadline:

And in the dust is Focus Features’ Ethan Coen directed title Drive-Away Dolls at 2,279 theaters with a $1M Friday (including previews) for a $2.5Mopening. That start is lower than Focus Features’ Lisa Frankenstein ($3.69M), and that Zelda Williams-directed movie cost less ($13M) than what Drive-Away Dolls was acquired for. I hear that Lisa Frankenstein (with a gross of $8.8M through yesterday), will wind up making a little profit for Focus at the end of the day. Sure, there’s a big difference in demand when two Coen Brothers’ names show up in the trailer instead of one. It’s not often that a Coen Brothers movie goes wide in its first weekend, and in the case of when a studio doesn’t platform a title, it means they have to segue a movie quick from theatrical into home ancillary markets so that it makes money. With a 66% RT critic score and current 37% audience score, you can see why Focus went wide and fast with this one.


Ouch.

I know the Coen Brothers made their names together. But Ethan Coen is still a Coen Brother and was still a big part of making those movies that he and Joel did together. (I would say the same thing if this had been directed solely by Joel.). I'm kind of surprised more fans aren't turning out for this solo outing.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I know the Coen Brothers made their names together. But Ethan Coen is still a Coen Brother and was still a big part of making those movies that he and Joel did together. (I would say the same thing if this had been directed solely by Joel.). I'm kind of surprised more fans aren't turning out for this solo outing.

Well, I am a massive fan of both brothers. Personally, I think they are master filmmakers and two of the greatest filmmakers of their time. That said, a few things have happened to the movie industry.

First, obviously, the director of a picture being the reason people show up to a theater to see it has dropped off a cliff. Our best directors make films and people don't turn out to see them. This can be blamed in part on Covid but this trend was in place before that. We have been going through a time where franchise films draw the largest audiences. It has been trending that way for a couple of decades.

Second, I am sorry to say, the Coens began a slide into no longer being "a big deal" in 2008. Since that time, while I and probably other big fans have enjoyed or loved their films, they have not gone over well outside that small group. Their biggest "hit" since 2008 was True Grit (2010). Their other films in this period, Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, Inside Llewyn Davis, Hail, Caesar! and the Netflix film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs just have not connected with as many people as their earlier films did. I think in times where people seem to prefer getting the same film over and over again the fact that the Coens deliver odd twisted different films each time, throws much of the audience. Nobody expects a Burn After Reading to follow a No Country for Old Men. The "franchise" in this case is the filmmaker, and so I think audiences prefer to see similar films from a filmmaker if they liked a previous film. That is never the Coens' priority. Each time you enter a Coen film you have to open yourself up to adjusting to the world they are delivering and what they deliver will be quirky, but it won't be the same as the last film.

The days when we had a "film culture" have been essentially replaced by the "super fan" that loves a certain type of film and wants to see that type of film again and again. When you deliver that to audiences for nearly 30 years, well, that is what they are going to expect from a night at the movies. They are not looking to go to be surprised by what they see, they are going to see what they expect and if a film does not deliver that...well...it is a disappointment.

Any filmmaker now that makes individual standalone films is making films for streaming for the most part. Christopher Nolan may be the last guy standing that can do it and bring in a big audience to a cinema. Not because he is the only great director working, there are several others, but he seems to be the last one that really is catching the public consciousness with his pictures.

So, I did not expect this picture to attract a big audience, as much as I am excited to see it. I guess maybe the subject matter probably turns off some people. It is a story about two lesbians going on a quirky adventure. That's not exactly something middle America has been waiting to see.

Supposedly, the Coens will reunite to make a horror film they have written. This may be a smart move for them because horror pictures can do really well and having the Coens directing may be enough of a hook to pull in a much larger audience. We will see I guess.
 

Jake Lipson

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I saw Drive-Away Dolls this afternoon. There was one other person besides me in the whole auditorium. Unfortunately, this movie is clearly not connecting with a large audience this weekend.

That being said, I enjoyed it a lot. The movie might be a little slight, and the plot is really (perhaps overly) reliant on coincidence. This isn't the type of Coen Brother movie that will be in the awards conversation like No Country For Old Men or True Grit or Inside Llewyn Davis. However, it doesn't really need to be that. I can't speak for Ethan Coen's intentions, but it feels like this movie just exists to give audiences a good time. When judged by that metric, it absolutely succeeds. I really liked it and laughed a lot throughout.

Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan are great in these roles. Their chemistry together is a big reason the film works. I would be very interested in watching them together again in another project. Beanie Feldstein is good too in a supporting role, but she felt a little underused to me. I don't really have a bad word to say about anyone in the cast, but Coleman Domingo deserves special mention on the antagonist side of things. He is really threatening and made the stakes very clear.

I also appreciated the running time. Lots of movies are very long these days. If they need to be, that's fine. But a lot of long movies seem excessive and overindulgent lately. So it was really nice that this clocked in at 1 hour and 24 minutes. The movie is light on its feet and breezed right along. It felt like it was as long as it needed to be and didn't overstay its welcome. As usual, the trailer scroll before the movie was excessively long. But the movie itself was better for its brevity.

I would also caution anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet that the second trailer Alex posted back on February 6 is very spoilery. Of course, I don't mean to blame Alex for posting it, just to point out that the people who made the trailer used a lot. The content in that trailer has a lot I wouldn't have wanted to know going in. Fortunately, I managed to avoid it beforehand. I saw first teaser from last year back then and forgot about it. That one is less spoilery than the second one, but I'm still glad I forgot about it. I do think this movie is likely to be more enjoyable if you don't know a lot going in. It very much earns its R rating though and will not be to everyone's taste. I think this is the kind of movie where people will really dig it if they are on its wavelength. But for people who aren't, they probably won't like it at all.

If you do manage to find a receptive crowd, I suspect watching it with the right audience would be fun. The movie still worked for me without one, though. I thought my time and money were well spent here.
 
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Colin Jacobson

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Great cast from top to bottom, too. Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan are pretty great in everything I've seen them in.

Until this movie, I'd only seen her in "Blockers" and "Broken Hearts Gallery".

Don't remember what I thought of her in the former, but I really liked the movie.

On the other hand, I thought "Gallery" was a weak movie and GV was terrible in it. Movie-destroying terrible - well, if the movie itself had been better.

She's fine in "Dolls" - not memorable but more than adequate.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Friend and I saw this yesterday. Both thought it was a chore to watch and felt much longer than its 84 minutes.

Basically "Pulp Fiction" combined with romantic "coming of age" story.

Thinks it's a lot funnier and more clever than it is. I mighta chuckled lightly 2-3 times.

Just a mess of a story that revolves around episodes without coherence.

Plenty of pointless scenes that dragged an already nearly non-existent story to a crawl.

Well, I liked the scenes where young Marian spies on her neighbor, at least. :laugh:
 

Jake Lipson

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Given Universal's quick turnaround policy on low-grossing films, this is now available digitally for those who are willing to pay a premium price. I liked the movie and would recommend it for anybody interested. But I'm not sure I would pay $19.99 to rent.

Gruv is taking pre-orders for an as-yet-undated physical Blu-ray that I haven't seen pop up anywhere else yet. So that confirms there will be a physical release.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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OK, well, I will make some entirely spoiler free comments here about this film. I like to wait until many people have seen a film before commenting on it and making any kind of remarks about plot or what happens in the story...I think going into a movie knowing little about it is the most fun. In this case, I'm not sure many people have seen this and I don't really know how many people will. Even trying to read reviews on this one was a bit of a challenge because it seemed there were fewer reviews on this than there are on many new releases.

Neil did put up a review of the Blu here at HTF, which I have and recommend if you enjoy Coen films, but I guess that's not a guarantee this one will tickle your funny bone, so check out his review of the picture if you have an interest. I think it is a fair review and probably how many would feel about this one.

So, a disclaimer first, I am a Coen Brothers junkie and love their pictures. I've enjoyed everything they have made, even the ones that often get slammed, like The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, for being the worst stuff on their resume.

I think this film slots into that area and is most like those two films. It's a comedy, a bit wry, a bit goofy, a little stupid but meant as a fun diversion. It has a specific type of character at the center of it, in this case two lesbians, and follows them on an episodic misadventure.

In truth, what this reminds me most of is a book of short stories that Ethan Coen published in 1998 called The Gates of Eden. These stories combine the same elements we get here, quirky characters mixed up in some sort of criminal activities, that tend to throw into the mix some sudden violence, all played for comedic effect and featuring some really sharp dialogue. This story could have easily fit into that book. If you want to experience that book, and I highly recommend it, track down the audio version where actors, many from Coen films, read the stories to you and really bring them home. That audio version is like a little Coen treasure just waiting for you to unearth it, and the title story, The Gates of Eden, read by William H. Macy, is hilarious and unforgettable. I think the audio version is on Youtube and you can listen to it for free, in fact, I may have once posted it here in a thread. So, really, this story fits in perfectly with the kind of stories Ethan was writing in the 1990s.

As I often do, after watching this film I tried to dive into reviews and comments from the filmmakers. The Coens tend not to say too much about their films so their interviews often don't reveal a lot, which is a good thing. I think the films speak for themselves.

Ethan is listed as the director on this but in truth, he says, this was co-directed, co-written, and really came from an idea Tricia Cooke, his wife, had in the 1990s. She came up with a title Drive-Away Dykes, which when she told Ethan the title, he said "We need to write that movie!"

They were not permitted to use the title and were forced to change it to Drive-Away Dolls, but I guess they still call the film Drive-Away Dykes because it will always be that to them. Aside from the title, what I've learned about the film is Tricia Cooke identifies as queer, she says this at least a few times in the special features on the Blu-ray, and is a lesbian. She came up with the idea for the film because she thought all the lesbian cinema she had seen was dark and depressing and she wanted to make a happy fun lesbian movie and this is exactly what they have done. She said it was important to her to show lesbians having a good time and I'd say they succeed here as they do exactly that.

This is not a Russ Meyer type film, I mean to me that conjures something very specific and the two main characters here are not at all Russ Meyer-like characters. In fact in the entire film, I think there is a single shot of jiggling boobs which happens when Ms. Qualley is going down on an orgasmic Ms. Gonzalez and the phone rings in the middle of it. Other than that there is a full-bodied woman sunbathing and swimming nude at one point that Viswanathan's character as a little girl is hilariously jumping on a trampoline and drilling a hole in a fence (Porky's style) to get a glimpse of.

This does play a bit like a 1980s-1990s teen sex comedy.

Much seems to be made of the sex in the film but truth be told, it is pretty tame. Yes, the women in this masturbate (under sheets nothing is seen) and they go down on each other (again nothing seen, except some jiggling bare boobs) and they talk about sex...but I've seen some people call this film pornographic and it is in no way pornographic, you probably see more and hear just as much in PG-13 rated 1990s films.

Also, while there is some violence in the film, it is tame as well, it is comedic violence played for laughs and grins. This is not Goodfellas.

As noted, the film is short, the story is not complex, and it all is served up as a bit of a trifle, a light confection for a fun movie night. In this regard, I think the film succeeds in a big way. The characters are humorous and likable, the story zips along to where it is going, we get Coen type criminals pursuing the wayward lesbians, and we get humorous stuff in the briefcase they find in the trunk of their drive-away car.

I've also seen this film knocked for being made by a straight white guy but Tricia Cooke says she is a proud queer filmmaker and lesbian so, I mean, this film was her idea and she co-wrote and directed it. So, Ethan is not dabbling on his own in lesbian B-movies, his wife wanted to make one.

There are two more lesbian B-movies coming from these two, the next is a noir, and the films are not connected and are not about the same characters. It seems they just want to create this little niche of lesbians at large films where queer characters take center stage and the stories are cinematic entertainment, not serious films dwelling on how difficult it is to be a lesbian.

The bigger names in this film are just doing cameos, so Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon do only make very brief appearances, which I guess also set some people off because they thought the trailers made it seem they were the stars of the film. They definitely are not.

My bottom line on this is, I really enjoyed the hell out of it, it was a fun and funny film. I probably have more forgiveness for what it is because it was just so fun for me to watch a Coen comedy again. Again, I am an unapologetic Coen fan. If you were to rank it against other Coen films, yes, it would fall into the area of The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, so yes, near the bottom of their works. Still a Coen comedy though, with all the quirks and characters that entails.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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Had they not written this some time ago, I would have thought that the film Bottoms could have been an influence. Bottoms is a lesbian teen sex comedy that would make a great double feature with this. I would probably show Bottoms as the second film in that double feature because I think it just is more consistently funny.

So, it does seem that the lesbian B-movie is a thing as in a short span, I've seen two, both were very enjoyable/ridiculous romps.
 

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