Banger Sisters

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Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen
Director: Bob Dolman

From the late 1960s through the ’70s and into the ’80s Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Vinnie (Susan Sarandon) were the Banger Sisters: super groupies who serviced the music industry and thus earned their self-explanatory sobriquet. But middle-age can be a tough break for the groupie who never grew up and the 21 st Century finds Suzette struggling to hold on to a job tending bar in LA and generally feeling that she has been short-changed by an industry to which she has devoted so much of her time and energy. The crushing realisation that having Jim Morrison pass out on top of her in a public convenience 30 years previously is not sufficient reference to retain gainful employment is cause enough for Suzette to take stock and look for a new direction. That direction, she decides, leads to Phoenix, Arizona, where Vinnie now lives.

En route to Phoenix Suzette picks up a fellow traveller: the fastidious Harry (Geoffrey Rush), a failed writer with obsessive behavioural patterns which, much to Suzette’s horror, include self-imposed celibacy. Upon reaching her destination Suzette tracks down Vinnie only to discover that she has transformed into Lavinia, a prim and affected wife and mother whose husband is a successful lawyer with political ambitions and no inkling of his wife’s rambunctious history. Thereafter the film follows a fairly predictable but nonetheless enjoyable path. Suzette comes crashing into Lavinia’s life: Lavinia resists; Suzette perseveres; Lavinia succumbs; everyone learns something about everyone else (and themselves); and along the way Harry manages to get laid and vacillates about whether or not he’s going to commit patricide.

THE BANGER SISTERS is a feel-good no-demands movie that never threatens to take itself or its audience too seriously; there are lots of fun moments and no pretensions. And so what if Geoffrey Rush’s American accent tends to occasionally meander across state (and maybe even national) boundaries, and Lavinia’s reversion to Vinnie is a tad too abrupt? Such lapses can be forgiven because ultimately this film is more Vinnie than Lavinia: it does not aspire to be something that it isn’t. Preferring instead to provide the audience with ninety minutes worth of a good time with no obligations and no recriminations. And that’s something the Sisters would approve of.

4 out of 6 stars