Monday, January 21, 2013

Capsule Film Reviews: The Banger Sisters

The Banger Sisters, 2002, Fox Searchlight, written and directed by Bob Dolman, 98 minutes, 2:35:1

What happens to groupies when they grow older? Well one of the Frank Zappa named Banger Sisters, Suzette (Goldie Hawn), remains the same rock and roll obsessed, foul mouthed, tattooed, smoker, party hearty, groupie who banged her way through the rock of roll gods of the 1960s and 1970s she has pretty much been since the Sixties. In the corporate word of the 2000s, however, she finds herself a ghost of times long past. When she gets fired from her bartender job at the now corporate Whiskey A Go-Go Suzette takes off for Phoenix to find the other half of the Banger Sisters, Vinnie, Vin (Susan Sarandon), who she hasn't seen in twenty years. The Vinny Suzette finds by the time she gets to Phoenix has become Lavinia, the uptight bourgeois wife of a lawyer (Robin Thomas) who, surprise, surprise, has dreams of a political career, a Lavinia who is the mother of two spoiled teenage daughters, Hannah and Ginger (Erika Christensen and Eva Amurri), all of whom know nothing of their mother's groupie past, and a Lavinia who dresses in the same drab colours as the walls of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Everyone in The Bangers Sisters is dissatisfied with their lives in some way, shape, or form. Harry (Geoffrey Rush), a failed Hollywood screenwriter who Suzette picks up at a gas station in Blythe, California on her way to Phoenix, is returning to his hometown of Phoenix to kill the father who left him with psychological scars. Lavina has lost herself in her husband and her daughters. Hannah is trapped inside a facade of created by her parents and particularly her mom that she is the good girl of the family. Ginger acts out because of her low self esteem.

Suzette, it turns out, is the answer to all their problems. She is Sixties flower power. She is a Sixties "force" who unleashes the full of life creative energies lurking in Harry, Lavinia, Robert, Ginger, and Hannah. She revives the creative writing energies submerged in Harry and he begins to write again. After a day and a night of reminiscing, drinking, dancing, and self-realisation she helps Lavinia revive the Banger sister Vinnie hidden within if in more mature form. She helps husband Robert and daughter Ginger come to terms with who their wife and mother really is. She helps fully release the creative I want to be who I want to be energies lurking in Hannah who in her valedictorian high school graduation speech urges her classmates to put parental expectations behind them and to ignore the siren call of the corporate world and do their own individualistic things. And she find herself once again discovering things hidden deep in herself which she wasn't aware were there and heads back to California with Harry in tow. Happy call for a return to the individualistic be yourself values of the Sixties ending.

I enjoyed The Banger Sisters though, like so many films, particularly Hollywood films, these days it didn't blow me away and I didn't have much in the way of feeling for any of characters despite the fact that I remember the hopes and dreams of 60s flower people. It was solidly, and thankfully not flashily, directed. So much of contemporary Hollywood is all camera movement and editing to the detriment of character and acting. On the downside The Banger Sisters is not helped by a soundtrack that consists largely of updated sixties and seventies "classics. Thankfully the films credits run to a real sixties classic, Steppenwolf's "Rock Me", a song that, from the vantage point of The Banger Sisters, seems almost to have been written about Suzette. Two and a half stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment