The Banger Sisters
3 out of 5 stars
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Hawn and Sarandon sink their teeth into well-written roles in this wry and entertaining mid-life comedy-drama. They play Suzette and Vinnie, respectively, best pals from the 1960s when they were groupies extraordinaire, named the Banger Sisters by Frank Zappa himself. All these years later Suzette is still working as a barmaid in a West Hollywood rock club, while Vinnie ("Call me Lavinia") is an uptight suburban housewife in upscale Phoenix with an ambitious lawyer husband and two teen daughters (Christensen and Amurri) of her own. When Suzette loses her job, she heads east to see her old friend for the first time in 20 years, along the way picking up a nebbish writer (Rush) afraid of life itself. Basically, Suzette's love-life mentality infects everyone.

But there's more to it than that. Suzette is living in the past while Lavinia is living only for the future, and of course both of them discover the present as the film progresses. This is an important message, and writer-director Dolman knows that, but he never hammers his point in. Instead he just concentrates on the characters and lets Hawn and Sarandon do what they do best: light up the screen with sharp, witty and clever performances. Their chemistry is terrific--why they've never made a film together before is anyone's guess. Rush even manages to make his initially cartoonish character come to life. And Christensen and Amurri (Sarandon's real daughter) are superb, dealing with their own issues and struggling with the idea that their bland, self-righteous mother has a torrid past. Essentially, this film touches on many of the same themes as Thelma & Louise, but in a much more off-handed way. It's thoroughly enjoyable and only falters in its overly touching climax. But at least Dolman and his cast continually undercut the sappy moments with snappy irreverence.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 1.Nov.02

dir-scr Bob Dolman
with Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen, Eva Amurri, Robin Thomas, Matthew Carey, Andre Ware, Kohl Sudduth, Adam Tomei, Sal Lopez, Tinsley Grimes
release US 20.Sep.02; UK 7.Feb.03
02/US 1h37

Memory lane. Vinnie and Suzette (Sarandon and Hawn) have a laugh looking through photos of their old, erm, friends...

hawn sarandon rush
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send your review to Shadows... some friendships last forever, like it or not "After I saw it, I saw some TV movie critics arguing over this movie and had to laugh - one hated it, one loved it. I have to go with the one who loved it - okay, maybe this ain't a great movie, but the chemistry between Sarandon and Hawn (who did not know each other prior to making this movie) is fun to watch. They play off each other well. Goldie plays the friend who did not grow up, basically stayed the same as when the two of them had gone to college and partied all the time - we all have a friend like that in our past, don't we? Sarandon is the ex-party girl - the other 'Banger Sister', named because of what they liked to do with rock stars 20 years ago. So one is now respectable, hiding her past, and the other is still living the past. What I really liked about this movie is watching the chemistry between these two well-known actresses. I have known them for years, have watched each in several movies - some silly, some serious - but have grown to really like these two women. I would have to say this may not be the best movie out there, but it is worth watching. And it does have an important message, I felt: It reminds all us 'old folks' not to forget what it is like to be young, and to remember to cut lose and have some fun whenever possible. This was an enjoyable movie - it was predictable, but still fun." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 7.Oct.02
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall