Nov. 4, 2002 If "Thelma and Louise" had hung around long enough to mature, instead of driving off that cliff, would they have become "The Banger Sisters"?
It's a thought. But the differences between the "banger" sisters — Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Vinnie (Susan Sarandon) — are somewhat more clear cut than those between Thelma and Louise.
The "bangers," so named for their almost-favorite activity back when, hung out together in the '60s as they avidly pursued rock stars, their favorite activity. (And we all know, if you remember the '60s, you weren't there.)
As we look in on the girls, a couple of decades have passed since their groupie days. Suzette is tending bar in a West Los Angeles club and regaling the customers with stories like the time Jim Morrison passed out on top of her in the bathroom. The customers are amused, but the owner isn't. In fact, he fires her the vivacious Suzette, who, after a few minutes thought and with no immediate plans, decides to head to Phoenix and visit her old pal Vinnie in the hope that Vinnie isn't as broke as she is.
Vinnie isn't. Now Lavinia, she has, of course, become the proper suburban housewife with husband, kids, swimming pool, tennis court and even a golden retriever. She is less than thrilled to have her checkered past turn up in the form of Suzette, who has picked up en route a disillusioned screenwriter named Harry (Geoffrey Rush) who wants to get to Phoenix to shoot his father, a singular ambition. Most folks come for the dry desert air.
Vinnie has two teen-age daughters in different stages of privileged rebellion (Erika Christensen and Eva Amurri, Sarandon's real-life daughter), along with all the other accouterments of a yuppie existence. As Suzette begins to insinuate her free spirit into the household, we can see where this is going (except for Harry and his dad). But wait a minute.
Let us not forget, we are dealing with two pros here. Sarandon and Hawn could make teenyboppers yearn to be 50-year-olds, and a silly script is something they can deal with. And they do so admirably with this one, according to many critics.
"The Big Chill," which examined life in the real world 10 years after college, it isn't, not by a long shot. According to Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Writer-director Bob Dolman just isn't up to the task. He falls back on sitcom predicaments and touchy-feely embraces. The movie wavers between Hallmark-card sentimentality and goofy, life-affirming moments straight out of a cellular phone commercial."
Still, Gillespie says, Hawn and Sarandon are "gorgeous inside and out; whether as sexy broads or grande dames, they take the movie as far as it can go on sheer guts and starshine." The apparent problem is it doesn't go far enough.
But if it's not an intellectual or emotional blockbuster, there's an awful lot of fun to be had with these two. Hawn's daughter, Kate Hudson, starred as groupie Penny Lane in "Almost Famous," Cameron Crow's account of his career as a teen-age journalist with Rolling Stone magazine. It looks as if Hawn could have been Lane's cohort in those good old days nobody remembers after they exchange hats and horns and hashish for a Chivas Regal on the rocks.
"The Banger Sisters" runs one hour and 38 minutes and is rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use. It starts Thursday at Market Square East on St. Thomas.
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