The Banger Sisters

2002, Movie, R, 94 mins


A post-feminist fable of growing up and getting your groove back, and more importantly, a showcase for the mature charms of Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn. Once upon a reckless youth, best friends Vinnie (Sarandon) and Suzette (Hawn) were the wildest groupies on Sunset Strip. A generation (or two) of appreciative musicians dubbed the inseparable pals the "Banger Sisters" for their full-bodied embrace of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle. But that was then and this is now. Thirty years later, brassy Suzette is still at Whiskey a Go-Go, where Jim Morrison once passed out on top of her. Only now she's dishing out drinks to kids barely older than her breast implants and sucking up rum and cokes when she thinks the uptight stripling who owns the joint isn't looking. Or at least, she is until he catches her drinking on duty one time too many. Broke, jobless and depressed, Suzette heads for the Phoenix, Ariz., suburbs into which Vinnie vanished years earlier. Her vague plan is to hit up Vinnie for a loan and maybe a place to crash, but what she really wants is reassurance that the good old days were as good as she remembers. What Suzette finds is a thoroughly reinvented Vinnie — Lavinia, if you please — the beige-on-taupe clad wife of a politically ambitious lawyer and mother of two teens (Erika Christensen and Sarandon's daughter, Eva Amurri) on whom she dotes with an iron hand. After all, if anyone knows the mischief of which teenage girls are capable it's a one-time underage drop-out who spent her adolescence in a booze- and drug-addled haze, cavorting with drunken rockers in hotel rooms. To be sure, everything builds to a sitcom ending and Geoffrey Rush delivers one of the worst performances of his career as a suicidal, thoroughly blocked (in all senses of the word) writer who exists solely to give Suzette a patient on whom to practice sexual healing. And no, this isn't exactly the kind of movie George Cukor would be making if he were alive today, but it's a delight to see Hawn and Sarandon flex their chops without having to dress down and scrape every trace of lipstick off their still-luscious lips. It's a foregone conclusion that Suzette will loosen Vinnie up and Vinnie will teach Suzette that "mature" and "sell out" aren't necessarily synonymous, but watching Sarandon and Hawn sashay through their paces is its own reward. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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