A scene from 'The Banger Sisters'
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**1/2 stars
97 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, September 20, 2002
Written & directed by Bob Dolman

Starring Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen, Robin Thomas, Ava Amurri, Matthew Carey


A good rental, quite suitable for home enjoyment.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 01.28.2003


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Uptight housewife rediscovers her wild side when old rock groupie girlfriend comes calling in exuberant 'Banger Sisters'

By Rob Blackwelder

Old groupies don't die, they just become SUV-driving, Donna Karan-wearing, what-would-the-neighbors-think soccer moms in Phoenix -- which is a fate worse than death if you ask the aging rock'n'roll sexpot played by Goldie Hawn in "The Banger Sisters."

Still a cute and curvy hardy partier decades after her backstage banging days were over, saucy, effervescence Suzette may be a free spirit, but she's also flat broke. Freshly fired from a perfect-fit bartending gig at the Whisky-a-Go-Go in L.A. (for no given reason except to set the plot in motion), she's decides on a whim to hunt down her best groupie-days girlfriend -- who she's heard is now a rich lawyer's wife -- hoping to relive old times and maybe borrow some money.

But it's been 20 years since Suzette has seen Vinnie (Susan Sarandon) -- who now prefers her given name, Lavinia, and has become a micromanaging Martha Stewart type with teenage daughters (Erica Christensen and Sarandon offspring Eva Amurri) that think she's the most uptight square on Earth.

Wringing this choice premise for more risqué laughs than you might expect from a fluffy comedy aimed at the Lifetime Channel demographic, writer and first-time director Bob Dolman is blessed with fantastically spirited performances from his perfectly-cast stars in this mirthful, young-as-we-feel cinema bonbon.

All leather pants and augmented boobs, Hawn is hilarious as she tries to resuscitate the fun-loving libertine lost somewhere inside the conservative, handbag-clutching Sarandon. The two have terrific chemistry together, never more so than when they're secretly getting stoned in Lavinia's basement and digging through a box of old Polariods, trying to identify their rock star conquests from snapshots of the body parts they knew best.

Meanwhile, Suzette has a project on the side -- trying to loosen up an obsessive-compulsive failed writer (Geoffrey Rush) she met on the road in her rusty El Camino. This side story, designed to reveal sardonic Suzette's kind and nurturing side, actually earns some of the movie's best, most unexpected chuckles.

Even within its fairly fresh concept, the rest of "The Banger Sisters" is far more predictable, especially when it comes to the conflicts that arise in Lavinia's family once she rediscovers her wild side. Focused on being funny, Dolman slap-dashes together an absurdly instantaneous resolution of her husband's disapproval and her daughters' shock without confrontation or consequences, robbing the picture of a potentially rich source of additional comedy.

But by the time this simplistic conclusion rolls around, the film has provided enough exuberant amusement to begrudgingly forgive it this last-minute narrative cheat.


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