“I love movie scenes where characters enter a bathroom armed only with a pair of scissors and emerge with a new look José Eber would be proud of…”
I’ve always loved the scenes in movies where characters enter a bathroom armed with only a pair of scissors or a bottle of Clairol and emerge with a new look José Eber would proudly call his own creation. In The Banger Sisters, it’s Lavinia (Susan Sarandon), a former wild child now living a respectable life as a suburban wife and mother, who undergoes such a transformation. In a matter of moments, she sheds her matronly ‘do for the same fierce, spiky shag that won Jodie Foster an Oscar for The Accused.
She’s driven to such drastic measures by a visit from Suzette (Goldie Hawn), a washed-up groupie with one eye fixed firmly on life’s rear view mirror. It’s basically the same role Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, played to perfection in Almost Famous, only with thirty years of hard living behind her. (Hawn’s message couldn’t be more clear if she were to put on a frilly red party dress and sing “I’m Still Here” while writhing atop a grand piano: The old gal’s still got it!)
The Banger Sisters is, in no uncertain terms, a Baby Boomer fantasy. It’s easy to see what attracted Hawn and Sarandon: how many lead roles for women over 50 come along these days? The two – who have never appeared onscreen together – play off one another terrifically. By sheer force of will, they overcome a hopelessly contrived and frequently maudlin script.
I won’t bore you with too many details. Suffice it to say that after a twenty-year separation, Suzette shows up unexpectedly on her old friend’s door. Lavinia is reminded of her glory days and decides to shed the drab beiges of suburbia for the psychedelic colors of her youth. Once transformed, the two head out to party like its 1969 (luckily for them, the only songs popular in nearby clubs are awful modern remakes of the FM classics of their youth). Despite carousing all night with revelers half their age, the morning light reinforces their newfound freedom rather than mortifying them as it would in real life, enabling them to teach their family and friends valuable lessons that will forever affect them in positive ways.
Although designed to be liberating, their climactic exuberance comes off a bit more as 11th hour desperation. Still, you won’t have a bad time watching The Banger Sisters. You might, however, develop a headache from getting hit over the head so many times with the film’s numerous messages. Bring aspirin, just in case.