The Banger Sisters

“I’m a spirit around here! I’m Suzette!”

Suzette (Goldie Hawn) strikes a bold pose, displaying her tattoos and big (fake) breasts while defending her position as bartender at the Whiskey A Go Go to a manager half her age. Not even her claim to fame (Jim Morrison passing out on top of her in the club’s bathroom) can save her job, and she begins to show and feel her age, despite holding onto her ’60s wild-child persona. Suzette is outta luck and outta dough, weeping amid lit candles, fake leopard pillows and old photos of psychedelic, sexually prolific days gone by. Time for a road trip!

Suddenly Suzette has the urge to see her old Banger buddy, Vinnie (Susan Sarandon), in Phoenix, and to maybe ask her for a little spare cash while she’s there. Vinnie, now Lavinia, has rejected her groupie past for the rich, reputable and beige lifestyle of a prominent lawyer’s wife — and, in the process, she’s unwittingly suffocated a part of herself. Whether they yearn for it or not, both Suzette and Lavinia could use a little of what the other has.

Bob Dolman seems to write screenplays all over the place, from the fairy tale-dwarf adventure Willow to Far and Away’s hot-headed and land-hungry Irish immigrants in young America (both directed by Ron Howard). This time he’s directed his own fun-loving script with the high-charisma trio of Hawn, Sarandon and Geoffrey Rush (the sexually and creatively uptight Harry).

Only Goldie could have pulled off Suzette without sagging into “I don’t want to grow up” melodrama. Hawn still surges with “Laugh-In” sex-appeal despite her age, and Sarandon willingly rises to the occasion, shaking her socially perfect world when she opens her oversexed-groupie, customized “rock-cock collection” Pandora’s box.

Unfortunately, the film loses its imaginative bite at the end, when all the ugly loose ends are neatly and unnaturally tied in a Hollywood bow. Still, The Banger Sisters leaves you with a smile and a healthy desire to reignite and reintroduce all those first loves that kick-started us back in the day.

Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].