Leah Rozen
September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush

A slight but enjoyable tale of two middle-aged women bonding over memories of their youthful glory as rock groupies, The Banger Sisters plays like a Lifetime TV movie blessed with superior casting. Hawn, still wiggling and giggling, plays Suzette, a bartender at an L.A. music club who is so used to being the life of the party that she doesn’t realize the party has passed her by. When she is fired, she heads for Phoenix to borrow cash from Lavinia (Sarandon), her old comrade in rocker appreciation. Now a respectable suburban wife and mom, the uptight Lavinia tells Suzette, “I’ll give you $5,000 to get out of my life.”

What follows in director-writer Bob Dolman’s debut effort is predictable: Lavinia loosens up and Suzette grows up. The considerable appeal of Hawn and Sarandon goes a long way toward pulling you through the movie’s excessive plot contrivances and screechy speechifying. But it is only in the earliest scenes, when Hawn has a sad, desperate edge to her, that she seems to be playing more than the lovable kook she has been onscreen for the past three decades. Sarandon, meanwhile, has little to do but act frazzled. Years from now, if it’s recalled at all, Sisters will be remembered for providing the first sizable role for Eva Amurri, 17, who is Sarandon’s real-life daughter (dad is Italian director Franco Amurri, 44) and portrays Lavinia’s child here. Amurri has a gangly, awkward charm and an easy way with a comic scene that augers a promising future. (R)

Bottom Line: Minor, mellow comedy from two pros

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