Feb 17, 2015

Review: The Banger Sisters (2002)

In Hollywood, being an aging female actress isn't easy. In 2002, Susan Sarandon was 55 and Goldie Hawn was 56 and both had done admirable jobs at fighting Father Time to keep the roles coming. That especially goes for Sarandon though who never seems to be lacking work, even today. Her movie choices are maybe a bit more suspect now, but you can't fault her for keeping busy. She does have the odd good film from time to time anyhow.

Goldie Hawn was however on the tail end of a Hollywood offensive by this time that unfortunately fizzled. She had some box office highs in the early to mid-90's like Bird on a Wire, Death Becomes Her and The First Wives Club, but that string of success would come to an end in the late 90's. The Out-of-Towners, a remake of the classic 1970 comedy film, was a big flop. Add in the mess that was Town & Country and you can see how one's career might stall. The Banger Sisters might have been a modest success but the damage was already done, making this the final film appearance of Goldie Hawn.


Genre: comedy, drama
Directed by: Bob Dolman
Produced by: Elizabeth Cantillon, Mark Johnson, David L. Bushell
Written by: Bob Dolman
Music by: Trevor Rabin
Running time: 98 minutes
Production company: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Gran Via, Elizabeth Cantillon Productions
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Gemini Film, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $10,000,000
Box office: $38,068,353 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen, Eva Amurri Martino, Robin Thomas Grossman, Matthew Carey, Andre Ware, Adam Tomei, Sal Lopez, Kohl Sudduth



Fun-loving Suzette (Goldie Hawn) is fired from her bartender position at the Whiskey A Go-Go due to her boss' belief that she's too old for the job now. With no prospects in sight, she decides to go visit her old friend "Vinnie" (Susan Sarandon) in Phoenix, Arizona who was once her groupie buddy. That's not to say that it will be an easy reunion since Vinnie has changed quite a bit since those days, leaving her groupie days far behind her.


At the core of The Banger Sisters there's a nice message. It's all about staying true to yourself which I'm sure most people would agree is pretty honourable. Suzette hasn't changed a smidgen since her groupie days besides the fact that she's gotten older. Her insistence on remaining the same and not "growing" has all the same caused problems in that she's not really taken all that seriously. She dresses loud and she's never been able to have a true career, relying instead on her fun bartending job that she's now out of.

Vinnie on the other hand, or Lavinia as she now goes by, has changed mightily. She's married a lawyer (Robin Thomas Grossman) with political aspirations and has two daughters (Erika Christensen, Eva Amurri Martino). Living in a wealthy neighbourhood, you can understand why she's hidden her groupie roots away.

While I like the whole idea, the execution of The Banger Sisters is severely lacking on the script and direction level. I'm sorry to say but Bob Dolman does a really bad job at developing Vinnie's growth into something that resembles logical progression. The whole affair just feels very rushed and attempts at humour fall pancake flat.

I know that Sarandon and Hawn can handle comedy, but you wouldn't really think so in The Banger Sisters. The combination of stilted direction and some overly low-brow jokes don't help things at all. Probably the lowest point of the low points would be a scene where Suzette and Vinnie are looking at their "Rock Cock" collection which is literally a collection of Poloroids with penises belonging to a variety of rock stars and other groupies. Giggling and smoking a joint, it's an unfortunate scene to say the least.

I have to say that I'm also surprised at how disappointed I was in Geoffrey Rush's performance as Harry Plummer. He's clearly not at home in The Banger Sisters and I suppose it's a good thing that his character isn't heavily focused on. In fact I'm convinced that it would've been much better if Bob Dolman had kept this a Suzette/Vinnie only movie. That would've allowed more time for both characters instead of including pointless scenes of Harry being all OCD.

The Banger Sisters just really disappointed me. I liked the idea of having two characters struggling in their own ways to be themselves, but the execution is all wrong. There's not enough of a focus on that which makes TBS very rushed and overly convenient most of the time. These aren't the best showings for Sarandon, Hawn or Rush either who are simply hamstrung by middling material. 



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