Thursday, September 19, 2002

Grumpy old sluts

Movie: The Banger Sisters

Posted on Thu, Sep 19, 2002 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 2.00

From a distance, it's easy to like the idea of Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon playing over-the-hill groupies based on real-life rock queens like the Plaster Casters and the GTOs. Too bad writer/ director Bob Dolman can't think of anything better to do with the premise than turning it into "Grumpy Old Sluts."

Hawn's well-loved flakiness would have been welcome in her key role as Suzette, a former Jim Morrison concubine whose inability to let go of the L.A.-rock lifestyle puts her in a serious money crunch. Instead, the actress is made to adopt a tough-cookie swagger that carries all the legitimacy of Lisa Kudrow impersonating Axl Rose. Wearing tattoo-revealing togs and calling everyone "maaaaan," the insolvent Suzette sets out on the road to Phoenix, where she hopes to score a bailout from her long-lost partner in tour-bus fellatio, Lavinia "Vinnie" Kingsley (Sarandon). Now a social-climbing mother of two, the tightly wound Vinnie doesn't want to be reminded of her past. But how much do you want to bet that Suzette's arrival will unleash Vinnie's dormant spirit -- and even help her be a better mother to her two troubled daughters?

Though Sarandon's performance is less cartoonish than Hawn's, any real poignancy she brings to Vinnie gets lost in the movie's swift, robotic cycles of rejection and acceptance. The biggest loser: Geoffrey Rush, unbearable as an emotionally and physically constipated writer who Suzette picks up on the road to Phoenix and likewise frees of his internal constraints. (As if Hawn's bawdy Oscar Madison needed two Felix Ungers.)

Balance isn't a virtue of this film, which barely acknowledges the notion that Suzette's perpetual trolloping may, too, be a prison. Such truths just aren't as cineplex-ready as the sight of one should-be soccer mom and one real one poring over decades-old Polaroids of musicians' genitalia. The display is so unintentionally gruesome that you don't have to feel at all guilty for noticing that Hawn still looks killer in a pair of leather pants.



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