Movie Review: The Banana Splits Movie (2019)

Based on the real life children’s TV series of the same name, The Banana Splits Movie is a 2019 horror film directed by Danishka Esterhazy. For his birthday, Harley Williams (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong) is given tickets to attend a live taping of The Banana Splits, an anthropomorphic quarter of robot animals — Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky; a dog, monkey, lion and elephant, respectively — which he attends with his older brother Austin (Romeo Carere) and parents, Beth (Dani Kind) and Mitch Williams (Steve Lund). When something effects the programming of the Splits, Harley’s birthday becomes a fight for survival.

+ there is quite a bit of good gore, and frankly that is about as good as it gets. The surrealist nature of seeing these (real life) children’s characters as Five Nights at Freddy’s style murdering monstrosities is the appeal of this movie, and in that regard it succeeds
+ I didn’t recognise any of the actors in this movie, which was good and bad; it sort of felt small budget, because I didn’t see any major stars, but that was more than balanced out by the fact that I had no preconceptions about anyone. It’s a positive here because it was a welcome change
+ Patrick Stump (from the band Fall Out Boy) does a cover of the iconic Banana Splits theme song, which meant the credits for the movie were great for two reasons: the song, and the fact the movie was over

thebananasplitsmovie_2
Snorky, Drooper, Bingo and Fleegle: the Banana Splits! I actually find Fleegle the cutest, which is interesting, considering…

– horrendous acting from all the main players, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was watching an intentional parody movie. I can maybe (but not really) forgive the child actors if they aren’t particularly good, but there was no excuses for the adults, especially those with multiple credits to their names on IMDb
– the plot didn’t make much sense, and was full of ‘just accept that it happened and move on’ moments. It was never particular scary, nor did the less-than-genuine attempts at black comedy (or even surrealist humour, I suppose, given this is still a movie about children’s performers-cum-murders) resonate with me in any way
– it’s really not quite clear in what time period this movie is set; obviously the fact that the Banana Splits are still on TV is one thing, but the technology is current day (if not in the future, for the Splits themselves). This just felt like lazy scripting more than anything
– the Splits themselves, in our real world, were very clearly actors in suits, but the movie made them out to be robots. This goes hand in hand with the time period point above; it just feels like lazy budget saving rather than anything related to the story

Should you see this film: No. Even watching this with the intent of it being a comedy was not enough to suggest this is worth seeing. Poor performances, wasted potential and lazy plot points mar what could have been a great new horror comedy entry.

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