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Case Number 02602

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The Banger Sisters

Fox // 2002 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 11th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

"Time is the fire in which we burn."—Malcolm McDowell, Star Trek: Generations

Opening Statement

And they say there's no good film roles for women over 40. Well, here comes the Goldie Hawn / Susan Sarandon comedy The Banger Sisters to prove them wrong. Though the film didn't ignite the box office upon its initial release, Fox is giving the film new life on DVD with a few extra features for fans to rock and roll to. Also starring Geoffrey Rush (The House on Haunted Hill) and Erika Christensen (Traffic), The Banger Sisters is now available care of Fox Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

Suzette (Hawn) and Lavinia (Sarandon) were two of rock's greatest groupies ever. From Jim Morrison to Jimmy Page, Suzette and "Vinnie" slept with almost every major music stud under the sun. They were so popular, in fact, that rock icon Frank Zappa dubbed the dynamic duo the Banger Sisters (because they "banged" everyone…get it? Ha-ha!) As the years passed, Suzette stayed in Los Angeles and kept up her promiscuous image by tending bar and…well, being a slut. Lavinia went in a completely opposite direction—she moved far from the glitter of showbiz, married into money via an upstanding businessman (Robin Thomas, Clockstoppers) with political aspirations, and became a suburban housewife and mother of two bratty daughters. When Suzette is fired from her job and left broke, she packs up her things and heads into Lavinia's conservatively fragile world to ask for financial help. It's on this trip that she also meets Harry (Rush), a neurotic writer who harbors ideas about killing his deadbeat father. Soon Suzette begins to rub off on the once exciting Lavinia, creating a cataclysmic change in both "Vinnie," her family, and Harry's life!

The Evidence

For anyone over the age of 40 who's wanted to chuck it all and sleep with rock stars…The Banger Sisters is for you. For anyone who's wanted to slap around their one-time best friend because they've gone all wacky conservative on 'em…The Banger Sisters is for you. For anyone looking for a really funny comedy with really funny characters and really funny writing…The Banger Sisters is not for you.

I really wanted to like this movie. I am a fan of Susan Sarandon (her Oscar winning performance in Dead Man Walking was fantastic), and normally enjoy most of Goldie Hawn's performances. In The Banger Sisters both women are amusing and charming, but those same words can't be used to describe the mundane screenplay by writer/director Bob Dolman. The comedy runs only two major gambits: A.) dirty and raunchy (Kids having sex in a pool! Discussion about hand jobs! Memorabilia by way of penis photographs!) or B.) warm and fuzzy—which happens every five minutes via Goldie Hawn's infections giggle. Though there were a few funny one-liners, generally speaking this is a placid, dull film that lacks any true spark. It seems that at every turn we're slapped in the face with the film's theme—be yourself no matter what!—and that's just plain old annoying. Even worse is Sarandon's character's transition from uptight yuppie to freakish rock and roller—the story arc just isn't believable.

While Hawn and Sarandon have prominent roles, most of the other characters are wasted on minor supporting nonsense. The usually great Geoffrey Rush seems to be doing a rather pale imitation of Woody Allen. Erika Christensen strolls around the movie fuming over her parents. Robin Thomas shows up only a few times to remind the audience that Sarandon is married to a very conservative future politician. Then he's written back off the screen. I know this is technically Sarandon and Hawn's show, but let's give a little more screen time to the periphery characters—often that's where you find the best moments of a comedy.

Don't get me wrong. I realize that The Banger Sisters wasn't made for me. I think it was made for people my parents' age, though with all the swearing and graphic discussion of sex I find it hard to believe it pleased anyone in that age group. [Editor's Note: I'll concur; my parents would be put off by this movie, and I didn't find it particularly amusing either.] Younger folks might get a kick out of seeing Goldie Hawn, if only to see where her daughter Kate Hudson is heading. (And is it possible she took this role to balance out Hudson's in director Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous?) Otherwise, spend your time more wisely and rent a Doors concert film.

The Banger Sisters is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Once again Fox has come through with a wonderful transfer that sports solid colors and dark black levels. Aside of the smallest amount of edge enhancement, this image appears to be in excellent shape. There was no pixelation, no mosquito noise, nothing…just a nice looking picture.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Though this sound mix is good, I wouldn't say that it's great. The biggest boost comes from the rock songs and music score by Trevor Rabin (himself a retired member of the band Yes). Otherwise, the bulk of this track is focused in the front and side speakers with small amounts of ambient noise. All aspects of the mix are free of distortion or hiss. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles, as well as Dolby 2.0 soundtracks in English and Spanish.

Though it didn't light a fire Jim Morrison-style at the box office, Fox has still seen fit to include a few extra features on this disc for the rock and roll fan in all of us. Here's a rundown of what's on this DVD:

Commentary Track by Writer/Director Bob Dolman: A typical commentary track with the director rehashing good times on the set with the various performers. There are a few lapses during this track, though overall Dolman is a genial, nice guy who has a fair amount to say about his film. He seems to really enjoy working with Hawn, and who wouldn't? She's so cute…

Blooper Reel: A reel of flubs and mess-ups with the various cast members, set to the song "Who Are You?" This is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and includes Goldie Hawn giggling…a lot.

Two Theatrical Trailers: Two trailers, one for The Banger Sisters and a second for the comedy Bend It Like Beckham.

Closing Statement

Though Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon are two of the sexiest women in Hollywood, neither presence can save this rather mediocre story. Fox's work on the disc is pleasing with more than enough supplements to satisfy fans.

The Verdict

The Banger Sisters is forced to spend more time on the road with Led Zeppelin until they get it right.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 93
Audio: 88
Extras: 80
Acting: 82
Story: 62
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Comedy
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary by Director Bob Dolman
• Blooper Reel
• Theatrical Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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