The Banger Sisters

There are two ways to approach making a movie like The Banger Sisters, a movie about two groupies reuniting after years apart. One is to take a serious look at how time separated the two, and delve into their personalities. The second, which writer/director Bob Dolman decided to do, is to take a very lighthearted look at a mid-life crisis. This means the movie has little that is serious in it, and should be taken with a grain of salt. The Banger Sisters is a light piece of nothing, for the most part devoid of any substance, but moderately amusing to watch, mainly due to its two stars, Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon. Although both of them are extremely capable actors, nothing in The Banger Sisters requires them to use any of their formidable skills. They just look like they're having a blast doing these roles, and part of that enthusiasm translates off the screen; it is just enough to keep the audience from boredom.

Hawn and Sarandon both have Academy Awards, as does co-star Geoffrey Rush (Lantana, The Tailor of Panama), but unlike the women, instead of the role being a near waste of talent, Rush's Harry is a complete waste of screen time. Harry holds a considerable amount of resentment towards his father, and is on his way to Phoenix for a confrontation. It's pretty obvious what is really going on, but Dolman pretends otherwise. Harry is uptight, relying on strictly regimented schedule to get through the day. Any deviation from his normal routine causes his stress. Of course he meets Suzette (Hawn, Town & Country, The Out-of-Towners), a faded groupie trying to hold onto the past. She was just fired from the venerable Whiskey, and doesn't know what to do, so she's off to Phoenix to visit her best friend from the day, "Vinnie." Suzette and Vinnie were the notorious Banger Sisters, companions to many rock stars and the occasional roadie.

To her shock, Vinnie (Sarandon, Igby Goes Down, Cats & Dogs) now goes by Lavinia, and is just as uptight as Harry. She hid her salacious past, and now her family knows her as a total control freak and perfect mother. Suzette's reappearance is a shock to her and her family, who have no idea how their straight-laced mother could possibly know somebody like Suzette. As expected, Suzette becomes a source of familial turmoil for Lavinia's family, and eventually is the catalyst that causes both Harry and Lavinia to open up. Lavinia's daughters Hannah (Erika Christensen, Swimfan, Traffic) and Ginger (Sarandon's daughter Eva Amurri, Dead Man Walking, Bob Roberts) both labor under the high expectations of their mom. Hannah is lying to her mom about what she does, but Lavinia is in the dark about it.

One of the weaknesses of The Banger Sisters is that Dolman has Sarandon's character change rather abruptly. Suzette shows up, and Lavinia realizes what a lifeless life she lives. It may be fun watching Sarandon and Hawn play dress up, but the way that Dolman handles Lavinia's transformation back to Vinnie is so brief it makes her character seem superficial. It's also never clear why she needed to change to such an extreme degree in the first place. Just like that, the two go from cautious testing the waters with each other to again the best of friends, partying, smoking out and reminiscing about old times. The acceptance by Lavinia's family is also a foregone conclusion, but that happens a little too quickly also. The Banger Sisters may be enough to put a smile on some people's faces, but is a little too in substantial to make any sort of permanent impression.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated R for language, sexual content, and some drug use.

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