Someone told me an interesting story once. It was about my towel-matching, potpourri-scattering mother, and it threw me for a loop.
Supposedly, back in the 1970s, she had locked lips with David “Ziggy Stardust” Bowie in his limo. Needless to say, after hearing the story, I thought my mom was a lot cooler than I had originally assumed.
And it is anecdotes as such that generate the entire makeup of The Banger Sisters.
In the film, Suzette (played by the still tantalizing Goldie Hawn) finds herself unwelcome in the young rock ‘n’ roll club scene in L.A. She decides to revisit a kindred spirit from her past in Phoenix. On her way she befriends a nervous little man named Harry (Geoffrey Rush), who is also fixated with his past.
When Suzette gets there, though, she finds that her old pal, Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) is the model of an upstanding, upper-class and uptight suburban mother. They must all deal with the past in different ways so that they may each learn who they really are – and never forget who they were.
The uncanny irony in this movie is that it could be a chronicle of the main characters from Almost Famous, which stars Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson. The Banger Sisters coincidentally introduces us to Suzette via Penny Lane and Harry via William Miller.
Peculiarity aside, this film actually works very well. Hawn is witty and smug without being overbearing. She turns in an especially funny performance and turns Suzette into a slice of every woman’s guilty pleasure, which endears her to the audience. Sarandon delivers an awfully convincing performance as a snobby, uptight and overprotective mother.
Even the obligatory mother-daughter adolescent tension between Lavinia and Hannah (Erika Christensen) works well on screen.
And although the role of Harry comes across as a Rainman/Woody Allen rip-off, Rush’s usual sincerity allows him to pull off a reasonably funny character, even though he may be equipped with a few droll one-liners.
The movie falls a bit short of the rock ‘n’ roll credibility for which it aims. The props – Bowie T-shirt and a cheesy “lizard king” Morrison tattoo – are a bit contrived. And when Sarandon quotes a dreadful Morrison lyric at the dinner table, it’s a bit much.
The attempt at a cutting-edge soundtrack that filmmaker Bob Dolman, making his directorial debut, puts together for the film is downright pathetic. It is filled with a mixture of unnecessary remakes of otherwise great rock songs and tracks by utterly deficient modern bands.
The Banger Sisters does slam suddenly into a wall of sentimentality that carries into its closing stages. Especially when the director plays Aesop to this fable, using the daughter’s graduation speech to bang the viewer over the head with the moral in the ending – the weakest part of the film.
It can be forgiven, though, seeing as it follows the film’s funniest scene. In a truly hilarious incident, the family walks in on Mother and Suzette reminiscing about a 20-year-old joint and a floor scattered with Polaroids of various rock ‘n’ roll stars’ endowments.
The film doesn’t aspire to be anything more than it is – a light-hearted comedy with a suggestive but acceptable message.
The Banger Sisters also clarifies the fact that just because you are old doesn’t mean you can’t rock.
Amen to that.
Contact Nick Margiasso at firstname.lastname@example.org