If you could somehow rewind “The Banger Sisters” past its starting point, back to what happened 20 years earlier, then you’d have a juicy story to watch.
Alas, we don’t have that technology. Instead, we must remain in the present and listen to the title characters talk about how fun it was in the good old days. Talking about it isn’t nearly as interesting as living it must have been, that’s for sure.
For in the old days, Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) were rock groupies. They drank, did drugs and partied and had sex with pretty much every musician who rolled through Los Angeles.
It’s the sort of life most people would be ashamed of later on, but only Lavinia is. She is now the wife of a wealthy Phoenix attorney (Robin Thomas) and the mother of two spoiled teenage girls, valedictorian Hannah (Erika Christensen) and rebellious Ginger (Eva Amurri, Sarandon’s real-life daughter).
Suzette, meanwhile, is a trashy, unemployed bum who prefers to believe the party days never ended. She still treats sex as a toy and flits through life without regard for the consequences.
Suzette and Lavinia are reunited in Phoenix, with Suzette seeking a hand-out from her now-rich old friend. Along the way, Suzette has encountered Harry (Geoffrey Rush), a borderline obsessive-compulsive who’s heading home to Arizona to kills his father, whom he blames for his failure as a Hollywood screenwriter. Geoffrey Rush’s American accent is bad, and his subplot is sadly irrelevant.
The writer/director is Bob Dolman, who previously wrote “Willow” and “Far and Away.” Stories set in reality and in the present day are apparently not his strong suit; “The Banger Sisters” suffers from dim-witted dialogue, a predictable plot and troublesome characterizations. It is difficult, for example, to accept that sleazy Suzette would be the source of so much inspiration among her associates. When the time comes for her to do her own soul-searching, it is brief and cursory, and she doesn’t wind up changing anything about herself. But I, for one, refuse to believe her carefree, rootless lifestyle is the way we ought to live, even though the movie tries to convince me of that.
Sarandon and Hawn are far better than their material. Some scenes with just the two of them have a zingy comic rhythm, and there are some genuinely funny moments scattered across the film’s relentlessly sunny landscape. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that I was enjoying the actresses more than the characters, and certainly more than the movie.
C (1 hr., 38 min.; )