daughters and a husband with the human potential of a snail

THE BANGER SISTERS 

An Illusion review by Joan Ellis               


“The Banger Sisters” delivers a few laughs and a whole lot of annoyance.  The disappointment is great because the anticipation had been high.  Susan Sarandon, radiant with intelligence and good looks, and Goldie Hawn, resplendent in her crazy mixture of dorkiness and compassion, are a dream pairing.  They could do anything.  And here they are given nothing to do.  The promised comic explosion of their talents never materializes.  They are mired in dull lines.    

During a youth spent as musician groupies in bars with names like Whiskey a Go Go and the Liquor Locker, the two women lived from man to man in the rock culture they had chosen.  After several decades, Suzette (Goldie Hawn) has been laid off by her boss.  What do you do for a follow-up?  After leaving the bar sunk in despondency, she goes to home to her candlelit room, a richly warm place of beloved clutter.  It’s a lair, a home for a creature entirely of her go-go time.

 Now broke, Suzette wipes her tears and heads for Phoenix where buddy Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) lives a proper life with her lawyer husband.  Suzette needs a loan.  On the road trip out, Goldie Hawn treats us to that unique blend of comedy that can stop on its edge and pass into empathy.  We look forward to the culture clash of her wildly colored outrageous clothes in the conservative southwest.  “I’m the color of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and you look like a flower,” Vinnie later says.  

We watch a fine dinner table scene as Vinnie reveals her past to her spoiled rotten family.  Sarandon and Hawn play this beautifully, but it unfolds to an icy reception.  Her family is beyond redemption.  When Susan Sarandon chops her hair into a spiky cap, we know she will finally insist at least on more laughter. The mother who lost herself in duty is about to change her tune.  

But here’s the problem:  writer/director Bob Dolman clearly doesn’t know how to deal with his high-powered cast.  He gives Vinnie two cardboard caricature daughters, and an out-to-lunch husband who together have the human potential of a snail.  The director also forces Suzette to deal with an irrelevant sub-plot that is eventually, though mildly rescued by a hard working Geoffrey Rush as Harry.

 Mr. Dolman misses entirely the fun to be had with the transformation of Vinnie from perfect suburban mother to enlightened former groupie.  Her family, relentlessly crying “Oh, moth-er,” could have been given lines that would bring them into the fun.  We are denied the pleasure of a family unbuttoned and graceful at the revelations of their mother’s past.  Mr. Dolman seems to believe the daughters could react only with Puritan shock.  Give Sarandon and Hawn a new director and an inspired writer, please, and let them show us what they can do with it.  Together, these two dazzling women could make a good script soar. 

 


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