The Banger Sisters ain't bangin'
You all should've seen me at The Banger Sisters. I was having a great time. Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn wowed me; I actually caught myself clapping when I laughed-a potentially embarrassing response. But thankfully, other viewers' laughter drowned it out. All hail packed theaters.
But the laughter didn't last. With five minutes to go, the movie decided it was done telling a story and went for the single most annoying movie ending ever: the Easy Speech. Here, the phenomenon took the form of Erika Christensen delivering a corny valedictorian address that had nothing to do with graduating, but just so happened to tie up all the movie's conflicts with minimal effort and maximum corn. This kind of ending, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is insulting. It also has the side-effect of making the rest of the movie, no matter how good it was, look bad. See, when you get off at the end of a film, look around, and realize you're in the middle of nowhere, you start to wonder if you were actually going anywhere in the first place. Apparently, you weren't; the movie just had you thinking you were. It cheated you. The nerve .
So first, I'm in denial. I tell my friends, "No, guys. This was still really good. Honest." Then I get angry. I was a great passenger and got nothing in return. That's not cool, Banger Sisters. It just ain't cool.
Two ex-groupies and best friends, Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) and Suzette (Goldie Hawn), reunite after thirty years of separation. Suzette, who's still as wild as ever, gets fired from her job at a bar in L.A. and drives to Phoenix to see Vinny, who is now an uptight lawyer's wife with a house big enough to have a kid's wing and a banana hammock. On the way, she picks up a geeky control-freak screenwriter named Harry (Geoffrey Rush), who has the odd mission of going to Phoenix to kill his father. Suzette ends up waking Vinny's repressed wild side, to the disgust of Vinny's prim husband Raymond (Robin Thomas) and her two spoiled daughters, Hannah and Ginger (Erika Christensen and Eva Amurri). All in one day, their confused wife and mother frazzles her hair, buys snakeskin pants, smokes pot, and takes out her "Rock Cock" photo collection for the two friends to reminisce over. That's right. Rock cock. Use your imagination. They were known as the Banger Sisters, after all.
The film is ultimately a serious one about losing yourself in the mixture of who you were and who you've become, but it had more than its fair share of funny moments. Some of them seemed like they were on their way to being embarrassingly corny, but were interrupted by sudden shocks of humor, making them absolutely hilarious in the end. In one scene, Suzette finds Hannah sick from taking LSD on her prom night. She brings her into her hotel room and holds her close. Soft music plays. Your eyes start to roll. But before they finish the full loop, Hannah suddenly throws up all over the bed. I think we all clapped on that one.
Kudos to all the performers-it's not their fault they were working off an incomplete script. Goldie, 58, still looks 30 to me, and frankly, that's scary. But she's the most adorable skimpy-clad ex-groupie I've ever seen. Susan handles her character's transformation with some unexpected comic pizzazz; and it all happens in just one, particularly powerful scene where she ends up flinging pasta at her husband. Now that's rebellion. Oh, and let's not forget Geoffrey Rush, who is almost too convincing in his role as the nerdy writer. Harry doesn't end up making much sense, but he's still fun to watch. There's no forgiving Erika Christensen, though. This is the second time she's played the spoiled, rich, drugged-up valedictorian type (remember Traffic?); can you say typecast? This is annoying, though not quite as annoying as the Easy Speech, where corniness seems to have broken through at last-with a vengeance.
Though rushed and sometimes confused, I'll admit that The Banger Sisters was a good ride. It's got a witty script and a talented cast, but gets pulled down in the end by the screenwriter's apparent laziness.