January 2, 2003 -- "The Banger Sisters" is a story about the attempts of Baby Boomers to recapture their youth, and the glories of the 1960s and 1970s. Appropriately, the two stars of this film are both Boomers, Goldie Hawn (born in 1945) and Susan Sarandon (born in 1946). Hawn was a regular performer on that groundbreaking 1960s TV show, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." Sarandon starred in the biggest cult movie of all time, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," in 1975. They are both aging stars in an industry that absolutely worships youth.
Hawn ("The First Wives Club") stars as Suzette, a woman still clinging to past glories of life in the 1960s and 1970s. She's broke and out of options, so she drives across the country, looking for an old friend. Along the way, she acquires a hitchhiker, Harry (Geoffrey Rush of "Lantana" and "The Tailor of Panama"). Eventually Suzette and Harry arrive at Phoenix, where Suzette's old friend, Lavinia (Susan Sarandon of "Moonlight Mile") lives. In the old days, Lavinia and Suzette were famous groupies known as the Banger sisters. They were famous for their numerous sexual conquests of big rock and roll bands. Lavinia has gone respectable, however. She now has a husband and children in the suburbs. She has adapted very well to her role as a traditional housewife and leader of the community. The only things left of her past life, it seems, are Suzette and a small box hidden in her garage which contains graphic evidence of the Banger Sisters' conquests.
Lavinia realizes that she is happy in her new life, but she has lost something of herself along the way. She is pretending to be someone she is not. She begins to reassert her previous identity as a fun-loving party animal, and this causes great concern in her husband and family. They see her changing into someone they don't know. Suzette, it seems, never changes. She is almost completely a dysfunctional person. She seems to be incapable of holding onto a job or paying her bills. There are signs, however, that she might be able to maintain a personal relationship. So there is hope she might actually grow up and become an adult at some point. The film makes the argument that you can go home again, that you can relive the past and become young again. It's like Dave Barry says, just because you grow older, it doesn't mean you can't act like a juvenile forever. This is not a very believable film, but it is fun to watch, in a juvenile kind of way.
Sarandon does a great acting job, and Hawn is convincing. Rush gives a solid performance in a role that doesn't make much sense. Rush's character, Harry, is a kind of oddball third wheel who doesn't fit into the story very well, but Rush finds a home for Harry in this movie somehow. This is one of those Hollywood fairy tales that all of us old Baby Boomers would like to believe in, whether it makes much sense or not. It rates a B.
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