The Banger Sisters
Written and directed by Bob Dolman

Starring Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon


The Banger Sisters

"The Banger Sisters" is apparently going to die at the box office, which is a shame because it happens to be a lovely and witty comedy that doesn't ask to be taken seriously and is blessed with a shimmering performance by Goldie Hawn as Suzette, aging bartender with enhanced breasts, now working at a West Hollywood club. Years ago she and her friend Vinnie (Susan Sarandon) were queens of groupie world, back around the turn of the seventies, sleeping with every rock headliner who came through L.A., and even the occasional roadie. Not only that, they have the polaroids of their lovers' genitals to prove it.

But as the film opens, Suzette is fired for drinking on the job, and heads to Phoenix to visit Vinnie and hit her up for some money. Little does she know that Vinnie is now Lavinia, straightest arrow in the quiver, with an attorney husband who has political aspirations and two teenage daughters, none of whom knows anything about her past - a secret she intends to keep from them.

Writer-director Bob Dolman has inserted here a subplot in which Suzette picks up failed and suicidal Hollywood screenwriter Geoffrey Rush along the way - a strange bit of miscasting which the Australian Rush handles as well as can be expected - and finds Lavinia so tightly wound she can hardly put two sentences together without clenching her teeth. The plot of the film then is concerned with Suzette finding the ways in which she can humanize and colorize the now-beige Lavinia, warm up the family, put Rush on the road to recovery, and send us home happy.

And she does. It's a delicious performance, with brio and verve enough for a whole season of films, particularly this year. After being sent away from Lavinia's door on the day of daughter Hannah's senior prom, she manages by coincidence to be in the right place at the right time that night to help when Hannah (Erika Christensen) suffers a bad acid trip. And when younger daughter Ginger (Sarandon's real-life daughter Eva Amurri, in a spectacular performance that comes right out of the dark side of "Clueless") tries to deal with the world of driving tests, Suzette is there to help again.

There remains only the task of restoring Lavinia to psychic health, and here is the place where the film falters. Somehow it is beyond Sarandon's acting reach to be a slut. She is a fine actress, and can be many things, but slutty sexpot is not one of them. So we in the audience must do her the favor of filling in the gaps in her performance, which is not all that hard, and accept her limitations. She only suffers by being in the same film as Hawn, who obviously loves playing the part. The film is charming, unexpectedly funny, and ultimately very warm. You can't really ask for more.