I've sat through "The Banger Sisters" twice now and honestly, still can't find much to say about it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you: the movie simply is what it is - a perfectly pleasant affair, with fine acting, nice emotional moments and a few good laughs. Neither fantastic nor terrible, the film falls squarely in-between.
The film stars Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon as Suzette and Vinnie, who were rock groupies twenty years ago, but they eventually went their separate ways. Suzette's still bartending, but early in the film, she decides to visit old friend Vinnie, who has drastically changed her ways. Now living in an upper-class suburban community, Vinnie (now Livinia) is now married, living in an enormous house and taking care of two bratty teenage daughters. The presence of Suzette freaks out Livinia, who doesn't want her "Banger Sister" past to be revealed, nor does she want her reputation in the neighborhood hurt.
The film proceeds largely as one might expect; Suzette and Livinia start to become friends once again after a lot of initial anger, while Suzette also serves as muse to troubled screenwriter Harry (Geoffrey Rush), who tagged along for a ride after he agreed to pay for gas when Suzette was out of funds. While the expected does happen, it's not until late in the game that the film clearly finds something to say.
Flaws, predictability and general air of "sitcom"-ness aside, "The Banger Sisters" works as well as it does largely thanks to Hawn's performance. Largely an older version of daughter Kate Hudson's groupie in "Almost Famous", Hawn does a fine amount with fairly thin material. She hits all the notes, both funny and emotional, and makes the character feel at least somewhat real. Sarandon turns in a decent effort with Lavinia, but playing such a tough case seems awkward for her, while the transition between uptight and her previous ways isn't believably handled by the screenplay, seeming too abrupt. Erika Christensen is rather bland as Livinia's daughter, but Eva Amurri (Sarandon's real-life daughter) is amusing as the other daughter, who's easily sent into temper tantrums. Geoffrey Rush does a fine job with a character who seems like he's out of a different movie entirely.
"Banger Sisters", despite all of its flaws, remains good-hearted and easy to like, if difficult to love. I liked the performances from all three leads (if they're all capable of better) and although the film isn't particularly memorable, it has its moments.
VIDEO: "Banger Sisters" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan (and there's a whole lot of picture missing on the pan & scan edition). Both editions have their own single-layer side of a dual-layer disc. The anamorphic widescreen edition is generally a very enjoyable presentation - while sidetracked by some minor faults and concerns, it often looks fine more often than not. Karl Walter Lindenlaub's cinematography looked slightly hazy in the theater and it does again here, as sharpness and detail are pretty standard.
Flaws are present on a few occasions, but they're hardly much of an issue. Some very slight traces of pixelation are visible in some of the more dimly-lit sequences, while minor edge enhancement is present in a couple of scenes. On a positive note, the print used did not exhibit any noticable instances of wear or dirt. Colors were nicely reproduced, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Banger Sisters" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a fairly low-key comedy soundtrack that only occasionally takes a step or two to be more than that. Surrounds are used fairly rarely, as the rear channels only step in for the occasional light ambience or reinforcement of the music - no more, no less. Audio quality is fine, as the rock score/soundtrack is reproduced with a decent kick, while dialogue remained crisp and clear.
Commentary: This is a commentary from writer/director Bob Dolman, who provides an informative track. Talking throughout the entire film, Dolman mixes up his comments between story details and some interesting technical/production tidbits, such as locations and stylistic choices (thoughts on widescreen framing, etc.) Dolman is friendly and funny and although the track has a few pauses here and there, it's worth a listen for fans of the film.
Also: 5 1/2 minutes of semi-funny outtakes; theatrical trailer; trailer for "Bend it Like Beckham" and a short HBO "making of".
Final Thoughts: "Banger Sisters" is what it is - a small, pleasant little comedy with fine performances and problems that are neatly and predictably wrapped up in just over 90 minutes. Fox's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality, along with a few decent extras. Recommended for fans of the film, while those who haven't seen it and are fans of the actors should maybe consider a rental.
The Film ** 1/2