Banger Sisters, The
When the world of an aging groupie who can't forget the past collides with the world of her best friend and partner-in-crime who wants to hide from it, they each learn the value of living in the moment.
The Banger Sisters is a piece of light fluff which gives you a chance to see what happened to those '60s and '70s groupies (so beautifully embellished in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous) years after their rock and roll days are over. Does that uninhibited spirit ever really go away? For Suzette (Goldie Hawn), not a chance. She's one hard-partying, old-time groupie who never really gave up the life but simply eased into a different pair of skin-tight pants. When she gets fired from her bartending job, however, Suzette is forced to do some soul-searching--and figure out a way to get some cash. Her solution? Go to Arizona and look up her old pal Vinnie (Susan Sarandon), whom she hasn't seen in 20 years. Except Vinnie is now known as Lavinia, a very conservative, suburban wife, mother and pillar of the community who has decided her bangin' days should be buried in a box in the basement. As appalling as it is to see her friend with two spoiled teenage daughters (Erika Christensen, Eva Amurri) and an uptight husband (Robin Thomas), Suzette tries to reconnect with the extremely reluctant Vinnie anyway. Suzette has a way of changing a person's perspective and eventually reminds Vinnie how much fun life can be, while Vinnie, on the other hand, shows Suzette how it may be time to finally grow up.
Here are a couple of screen actress who should have been paired up ages ago. Playing two women who've been through a lot together, Sarandon and Hawn's natural rapport comes from the fact the two actresses have also survived Hollywood together--still on top of their game and having a blast at it. Sarandon, who isn't a stranger to connecting with other females on screen (Thelma & Louise, The Hunger), plays the uptight, less-flashy Lavinia with enough panache that when Vinnie lets loose again, it makes perfect sense (Vinnie was probably always the levelheaded one in the duo anyway). But this is Hawn's movie. She simply shines with an effervescent glow as Suzette. Sure, she could have played the sexy ex-groupie with her eyes closed, but Hawn makes Suzette the heart of the story. Comparisons between her and daughter Kate Hudson's fragile Penny Lane in Almost Famous will be made, but Hudson doesn't have the spunk her mother possesses. Christensen and Amurri (Sarandon's real-life daughter) give an interesting spin on their spoiled-rotten roles, especially the increasingly watchable Christensen (who has had a one-two punch with this and the thriller Swimfan). Geoffrey Rush seems to also have a fun time as Harry, a depressive but anal man Suzette picks up along the way to Arizona.
Writer (Willow) and first-time director Bob Dolman doesn't have any deep, disturbing agendas to explore. Banger Sisters is light-hearted, fun and fairly simple in its premise, made more enjoyable by watching two excellent actresses give engaging performances. Of course, with fluff, there comes some sappiness. The subplots revolving around Lavinia and her daughters is somewhat distracting and the side story with Rush's character trying to reconcile his life is completely out of place. But luckily these are only small parts to the film. Harry really only serves as another example of how Suzette affects people, turning them towards the positive. She is everyone's muse, despite herself. The film is at its best when it focuses on these two women reconnecting. There is the hilarious moment when the two of them are looking through their ''archives'' of musicians they had slept with, and a scene in which Vinnie tells Suzette how she felt about visiting Jim Morrison's grave as we watch the two of them lying on the grass, gazing up at the stars in silence. It is a telling moment for them, showing how their experiences have truly shaped them--and shaped the movie.
With a story about aging rock groupies who come back together again, The Banger Sisters won't be bringing in the teenagers but will definitely appeal to the older set.