September 27, 2002

The Good Old Days

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Arriving early at the mall, my friend and I were the first people in the theater. The benefit of being first was that I got to see the other people, besides me, who paid $8.25 to watch The Banger Sisters on the big screen. Our audience was an older crowd, mostly 40-60 year olds. As the movie started, I began to understand the link between this generation and the movie. They were here to reminisce with Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Vinnie (Susan Sarandon) about their combined youths.

After being fired from her job as a bartender in a California nightclub, Suzette heads to Arizona to find Vinnie, her friend and fellow sixties groupie (hint about the meaning of the title). Suzette’s motives are anything by altruistic, instead she wants to borrow money from Vinnie. However, she soon realizes that Vinnie’s life is much different than hers. While Suzette is still clinging to her groupie roots, Vinnie, now going by her full name Lavinia, is the wife of a well-paid lawyer and the mother of two teenage girls. Throughout the movie, both characters come to terms with the changes in their lives and are able to become friends once again.

Hawn’s character is overdone and at times ridiculous. She continuously sports gobs of makeup, tight clothes and numerous silver bracelets, even while sleeping. She lacks substance, even though she is a main character. Her only purpose, it seems, is to be a catalyst of change for the other characters. Disappointingly, she is the same person when she enters Arizona as when she leaves it.

Vinnie changes the most throughout the movie, in fact so much in four and half days, it seems unreasonable. It makes me wonder if Hollywood is capable of depicting a story that spans more than a week. Regaining a piece of herself that she had lost years before changes how she feels about her role as a mother and wife. Conflict ensues, leading to one of my favorite quotes and most sincere scenes in the entire movie. In response to her family’s nagging, she informs them that while being a housewife and mother, “I have lost me”. Even though I was by far the youngest in attendance, and couldn’t relate to many of the scenes in the movie, as I am assuming other audience members did, I understood what she meant perfectly.

As if the plot wasn’t chaotic enough, add in Harry (Geoffrey Rush), a neurotic Suzette picked up during her trip to Arizona. With her help (I guess it could be called that), he faces his own dysfunctional past and is able to close that chapter of his life. Harry, along with Vinnie’s daughters Hannah (Erika Christensen) and Ginger (Eva Amurri), and her husband Raymond (Robin Thomas) all provide laughs.

Overall, I laughed a few times, felt uncomfortable during sex scenes — it was as if my parents were watching too — and left the movie feeling that it could have been a lot better.

Archived article by Kristin Hall