The Banger Sisters

The Banger Sisters


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This one's for the fans.

Goldie Hawn is a great survivor. She's the same girl who mugged inanely throughout Rowan & Martin's Laugh In all those years ago. After her daughter, Kate Hudson, won a Golden Globe playing a groupie in Almost Famous, she's repeating the privilege by playing an ex-groupie, called Suzette, who hasn't lost the taste for guitarists.

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Susan Sarandon, Oscar winner for Dead Man Walking, one of the Witches Of Eastwick and Thelma's travelling companion in Ridley Scott's iconic feminist road movie, needs no introduction. She's Tim Robbins's other half and an actress of fine sensibility. Here, she plays the dark-haired Banger Sister, who quit the backstage bacchanalia that was Sixties rock in the days when Jim Morrison was The Lizard King, and became respectable. She changed her name from Vinnie to Lavinia and married a lawyer.

The concept of Bob Dolman's film is full of potential and yet you have a feeling that someone has tampered with his script. Perhaps, it was never designed to be anything more than a star vehicle, wrapped in nostalgic sounds. Was sentimentality poured on to counteract the iffy prospect of middle-aged women giggling over pictures of penises?

Suzette is fired from her job at the Whisky-a-Go-Go in L.A and decides to drive to Arizona to look up her old pal, Vinnie. Her car runs out of fuel at a gas station in the desert and she hasn't the money to fill it up. A dysfunctional writer, called Harry (Geoffrey Rush), happens by and says he'll pay for the petrol if she'll take him with her. "I'm 50 and I'm giving myself a present," he tells her. "I'm going to Phoenix to kill my father."

That's another story and, maybe, a better one. Dolman uses Harry as a prop and occasional comic distraction when he's probably the most interesting person around. Suzette is a tart with a heart and Lavinia a rich mom who has suppressed her past.

The reunion of The Banger Sisters is utterly predictable. The underlying message of the movie - Be True To Yourself - is flagged way in advance. The Hawn/Sarandon mix feels like a calculated pairing that works because these ladies are consummate professionals. Rush, on the other hand, is acting his head off in a vacuum.

It's true, the fans will love it. Goldie looks as sexy as Saturday night and talks dirty with that slidy smile you remember from Private Benjamin. As well as Harry's weird phobias, there is another subplot that deserves more screen time - Lavinia's teenage daughters' story.

Sadly, Dolman takes the easy route and satire is abandoned in favour of happy-ever-afters.

Reviewed on: 30 Jan 2003
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The Banger Sisters packshot
A pair of groupies reunite years later.
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Director: Bob Dolman

Writer: Bob Dolman

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen, Robin Thomas, Eva Amurri

Year: 2002

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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