[box cover]

The Banger Sisters

Considering that Kate Hudson won widespread acclaim in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous for her portrayal of '70s rock groupie Penny Lane, one has to wonder if mom Goldie Hawn was tempted to follow in her daughter's footsteps, so to speak — either by revisiting her own dizty blonde persona found in so many previous films, or perhaps offering a look at what Penny would be like as she soldiered on into her 50s. Unfortunately, no matter what the motivation, The Banger Sisters (2002) fails to deliver anything substantial from its counterculture roots; the story may sneer a bit at minivan-driving moms, but there's enough schmaltz to ensure they're still the target demographic. Hawn stars as Suzette, a longtime West Hollywood hanger-on who's just been fired from her job tending bar in a rock club. Down on her luck and flat broke, she thus decides to head for Phoenix, where her former best friend (and other "Banger Sister") Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) lives in upper-class luxury. At first, Suzette is looking for a loan, but she's so insulted by Lavinia's callous behavior that she wants nothing to do with her. But Suzette still remains in town, shacking up in a hotel with a neurotic writer (Geoffrey Rush) she met in the desert. And as events transpire, "Suze" and "Vinnie" wind up meeting for an afternoon and start to rekindle their famous friendship — which doesn't sit so well with Lavinia's uptight attorney husband or her two spoiled rotten teenage daughters. The Banger Sisters is a routine bit of Hollywood filmmaking, fundamentally little more than a dramedy vehicle for its two stars — its no secret that women over 40 don't see a lot of good scripts, and both Hawn and Sarandon seem to enjoy appearing in this retro-slice of life. Unfortunately, besides the two quality actresses on the boxcover, the project has little else going for it: Both women inhabit their characters with a clarity of purpose, but that doesn't keep them from remaining idle clichés, with the boozy, sexually loose groupie and the uptight suburban mom. In fact, every character in the film is simply of a type, from the emotionally stunted novelist to the terrible teenage girls. Furthermore, it's hard to know exactly why Rush's novelist character is even in the film, as he barely comes into contact with main story (like Hawn and Sarandon, however, Rush is an enjoyable presence, although he's either doing a bad American accent or a really good impression of James Woods). The Banger Sisters will hold some appeal for fans of its stars, or even those who remember (or don't remember) the '60s and like to drench the decade in sentiment. It's just too bad there's barely any music from the era in the film's soundtrack — a key club scene features a live mix of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" (um, we thought these girls partied at the Whiskey, not CBGBs). Fox's DVD release features a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Supplements include a commentary with writer/director Bob Dolman, bloopers (nobody on Earth giggles more than Goldie Hawn, it seems), and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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