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Movie Review

"Two paths diverged in a wood, and I took the road less-traveled by. And that has made all the difference."

But would Robert Frost have been so pleased if he were to find out that both forks in that road led to serial sex, drug abuse, toxic plumes of cigarette smoke and an unending flow of alcohol?

Life-long rock ’n’ roll groupie Suzette wakes up one evening to find herself middle-aged, lonely, broke and fired from her cocktail waitressing job at the L.A. landmark Whiskey A Go-Go. So she drives to Phoenix to mooch from her old friend Lavinia who has forsaken their lascivious ways, married a lawyer and is raising two kids. On the road, Suzette hooks up with an obsessive-compulsive, not-so-successful screenwriter named Harry, who is on a vendetta against his father for messing up his life.

Once in Phoenix, Suzette spends a great deal of screen time seducing the ultra-finicky Harry. She also heads to Lavinia’s house to hit her up for the dough. But she chickens out and drives away before she’s spotted. That night, at the hotel she’s staying at with Harry, a high school prom gets out of hand and a girl passes out after dropping acid. Suzette, experienced as she is with drugs and overdoses, nurses the girl back to functionality and drives her home—Lavinia’s home. Thus, Lavinia’s daughter becomes Suzette’s ticket to reinvigorating her old friendship. Sadly, long before the credits roll, you know full-well which woman is going to be the influence and which is going to be influenced.

positive elements: What would qualify? Friendship? No. Enemies make better friends than Suzette. Care for the sick? Dubious at best, since the girl’s sickness is self- (and drug-) induced. Family unity? Hardly, considering the fact that Lavinia’s family doesn’t "bond" until Mom goes off the deep end. Overcoming mental illness? Again, no. Suzette uses sex to knock Harry out of his routine and toward a more "balanced" life.

sexual content: Suzette opens the story by fondly remembering the time when Jim Morrison passed out on top of her in the Whiskey A Go-Go bathroom. And the incessant sexual dialogue gets a lot franker from there. Oral sex is implied when a woman raises her head from a man’s lap. Harry rants about two flies which have "copulated" on his hand (he’s repulsed by the idea). Suzette bullies Harry into having sex with her (the act isn’t shown, just the conversation before and after, during which she insists she’s a master at manual stimulation). Suzette curls up in a bubble bath and the conversation lingers while the bubbles expand and recede on her nude body. Lavinia’s high school-age daughter, Hannah, has sex with her boyfriend in the family pool (Lavinia discovers them in the throes of passion and sprays them with a garden hose to make them stop). The boy is seen naked from the side as he desperately tries to cover his privates with his jeans. Suzette and Lavinia ogle Polaroid photos of male genitalia, gushing over their memories of sleeping with all the "rock gods" pictured. One of the Polaroids is seen briefly before it’s turned over. Others are seen from a distance.

violent content: Lavinia intentionally bumps her car into Harry to knock him down. Harry carries a revolver with him. In the chamber is one bullet, which he claims is reserved for his father.

crude or profane language: At least a dozen f-words, a few of which are used to describe sex. There are approximately the same number of s-words. Worse than f-words and s-words, however, is a quantity of explicit slang for genitals and sexual acts. Add to that about 10 mild profanities and 15 misuses of the Lord’s name (including "Jesus Christ").

drug and alcohol content: Suzette drinks Rum and Cokes a couple of times (once on the job). Hannah drops acid (moviegoers only see the aftereffects). It’s clear on a couple of occasions that high school kids have been drinking alcohol. Adults have wine with a dinner. Suzette and Lavinia get stoned on a 20-year-old joint after they drink all evening at a nightclub (which is after Lavinia gets drunk on a bottle of wine at home).

other negative elements: You name it. Lavinia’s younger daughter, Ginger, drives without a license. Both kids are disrespectful to their parents. Hannah lies to her mom. Suzette refuses to clue Lavinia in to the fact that Hannah is using drugs ("It’s between you and your mother," she tells Hannah). Lavinia shoos Suzette away when they first meet, offering her $5,000 to get lost.

conclusion: Instead of illuminating the emptiness, loneliness and dangers of excess, lust, drug abuse and promiscuousness, The Banger Sisters unabashedly glorifies all of those things, preferring such a degraded life to one of responsibility, commitment and restraint. Far beyond the film’s visual and verbal vulgarity, it tantalizes and deceives viewers with the message that life would be better if more "housewives on the social committee" would "loosen up" and party hearty. When Lavinia does just that, the implication is that her family grows closer, her days get sunnier, she begins to appreciate all of life’s small pleasures and her unwarranted stress drains away. And Suzette? She rides away into the sunset with Harry on her arm, searching for the next thrill.

Lavinia laments that she has been so busy caring for her family and helping her community that she’s somehow lost herself. A realization that begs the question: "If the person you’ve lost isn’t worth finding, have you really lost anything to begin with?"

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Susan Sarandon as Lavinia Kingsley; Goldie Hawn as Suzette; Geoffrey Rush as Harry; Erika Christensen as Hannah Kingsley; Eva Amurri as Ginger Kingsley; Robin Thomas as Raymond Kingsley


Bob Dolman ( )


20th Century Fox



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On Video

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Steven Isaac

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