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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Movie Review: The Banana Splits Movie


Before we begin, I’d like to begin by saying that I’m sorry for the lack of any content. I ended up getting very sidetracked with other things related to real life, so I haven’t paid much attention here. However, I’m pleased to say that the first big write-up on this blog will be a new megalist! So, woo! I’ll also be posting more reviews like I said I would, starting with today’s story.

If you or a family member (or a friend’s family member) grew up in the 1960s, or you grew up watching Boomerang like me, you likely know of a show called “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour”. If you don’t, it was a show featuring four “funny animal characters” named Fleagle (a dog), Bingo (an ape), Drooper (a lion), and Snorky (an elephant). These four characters made up a fictional rock band called “The Banana Splits”. In the show, the Splits generally performed a variety of skits, played their instruments, and did other things one would expect from the late 1960s. Well, at least within the realm of legality, though I imagine Hanna-Barbara were one some strong LSD when they greenlit this show.

The show lasted for a grand total of 31 episodes, though there were some shorts too. Since the show aired, it’s garnered a cult following (I guess), though in the time I watched it—which is to say I watched it while feeling unnerved by the costumes—I never found it to be particularly noteworthy. The costumes are nifty, but the show itself isn’t the strongest of the creations from Hanna-Barbara. Though the theme song is one of the most infectious and catchy I’ve ever heard.

Tra la la tra la la la

Anyways, in spite of my criticism towards the show, I need to be fair. The show was popular enough to earn a TV film, some educational films, a 2008 revival (which floundered I think), After that though, there wasn’t anything on it; the show remained one of the many intellectual properties that saw no interest—until 2019. It was in that year that, at San Diego Comic-Con, a horror-comedy film was announced. It was met with laughter and statements that it looked terrible. Though is it really? Ehh, kinda. Let’s go over the specifics though—with minimal spoilers.

The premise to this film really makes me think that the rumor about it utilizing the script for the Five Nights At Freddy’s film that Scott Cawthon scrapped at the last second are true. The Banana Splits Movie centers on a total of four characters: Beth Williams (played by Dani Kind), her sons Harley and Austin (played by Finlay Wojtak-Hissong and Romeo Carere respectively), and Harley’s classmate, Zoe (played by Maria Nash). While the four are together at the beginning, they end up divided into two groups; Beth and Austin are in one group with another character named Paige, who’s played by Naledi Majola, and Harley and Zoe.

There are a plethora of more characters, but those four (technically five) are the primary characters. Everyone else isn’t noteworthy because they’re food for the four killers: the Banana Splits. Yes, this movie is a slasher movie—so much so that I refer to it as “Friday the Bananateenth” to my friends. This movie is structured like a Friday the Thirteenth movie so much, I’m amazed Jason didn’t pop out of one of the animatronics (one of the many, many comparisons one can make to the aforementioned Five Nights At Freddy’s) and decapitate someone. I digress though, if you’re curious, here are the other characters if you want to know:


Deadmeat 2.

Steve Lund as Mitch Williams (thanks, Wikipedia).

Deadmeat 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on and so forth.


Orange Ape Man/Bingo who’s barely in the film despite being at the forefront of the poster.



Anyways, my pointless rambling aside, the movie’s premise is that Harley is a die-hard fan of the Banana Splits and, for his birthday, he and his family (plus Zoe) go to a taping of the show. However, the show gets canceled by the new Vice President of Programming, Andy (played by Daniel Fox) because it “doesn’t match the vision of the station”. From here, the Splits go ballistic and kill people.

The exact reason that they go haywire isn’t exactly clear, though the Wikipedia synopsis states that Drooper (who, along with Fleagle, are the main killers of the movie; more on this later) overhears Andy. This causes the programming of the Splits to malfunction, which I kind of guessed, but it’s conveyed very oddly. I digress though, the plot isn’t exactly important in a slasher movie. What is important is the horrible murder and violence, something the movie actually does wonderfully.

Indeed, the Banana Splits Movie is violent as all hell. There’s a plethora of horrible gory chaos, which should please most slasher movie fans if they can turn a blind eye to some mediocre CGI (the movie premiered on the Sy-Fy Channel) and mixed acting (some of which is decent and some of which is poor). If you can: there’s everything from dismemberment to setting people’s faces on fire. One stand-out scene involves the Splits’ obstacle course being used by two seriously injured individuals; it’s a genuinely tense scene that has a grisly payoff by the end of it.

Now despite that praise, one grievance I have is that, thanks to the movie taking a bit to get going, the ultimate payoff of the violence feels a little bit lackluster. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the grisly fun, but it dragged its feet to get there and the story of a kid going to a Banana Splits taping wasn’t that spectacular. It didn’t help that most of the characters aren’t fleshed out enough to really feel anything other than “that seems like a good person” and “that person is a dick, I want them to get stomped on by Fleagle until their insides look like pancakes”. Sure, it may be a slasher movie, but I’d at least like there to be one character who’s worth really attaching myself to. As it stands, the only one who I felt any genuine attachment to was Austin and he wasn’t terribly interesting, only less flat than the others.

Oh well, I’d be lying if I said I went in expecting anything of merit. No, I went in expecting guts and gore. That’s what I got, plus a sense that the movie was well aware that it was a very dumb idea. Indeed, the movie never came across as overly self-serious, there are plenty of moments which feel very funny and silly. So, that was definitely a plus in the film’s favor. However, it doesn’t necessarily save it from generally being a lackluster work of cinematic art.

One thing I do want to mention, and this is a bit of a spoiler, is that I found it really strange that Bingo and Snorky are barely in the film. Snorky is ultimately portrayed as the “good guy” (or good Split) of the four animatronics and Bingo gets taken out rather early. Because of this, Drooper and Fleagle are the main baddies. Why this is, I don’t know, but it felt really odd and given the rumor that this was meant to be a Five Nights At Freddy’s script, I can’t help but imagine that Freddy was meant to be the good guy and Bonnie was KO’ed early by someone who popped a cork at his face, causing him to fall out a window.

Flipping like a pancake, popping like a cork!

There’s also an original character named Stevie (played by a rather entertaining man named Richard White) in the movie, who’s a part of the show. I don’t know if he ever appeared on the show, but his character is killed in one of the most unique ways I’ve ever seen in a movie. It was funny and quite entertaining; it was like I had a crazy big jawbreaker!

Anyways, where does that really leave the movie? Well, if I were to look at it as a slasher film, I’d say that the Banana Splits movie is worth watching. If you like those kinds of movies, this could prove to be a good way to kill about 90 minutes. Or, if you simply want, go onto YouTube and watch the death scenes. As an actual movie, I echo what I said above: it’s generally a lackluster work of cinematic art.

You see, the reason I had so much fun for this movie is I went in expecting nothing more than 90 minutes of gore, carnage, and stupidity. That’s exactly what I got. However, if I were to lodge a stick up my rear, hold up a degree in art that I got from Harvard after spending $700,000 on textbooks and thinking that I know more than the average Joe because nobody can use their brain but me, I’d say that this movie was bad. Lucky for me, I’m not an intellectual badass who browses Reddit and thinks that everything I say deserves to be quoted until the day I die. I’m someone who sits at home and writes on a blog. So I can safely say that this movie’s worth watching if you like carnage, idiocy, and dumb fun.

Final Score (as a slasher film): B+

Final score (as a regular movie): C

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