The Movie Waffler FrightFest 2019 Review - THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE | The Movie Waffler

FrightFest 2019 Review - THE BANANA SPLITS MOVIE

the banana splits movie review
The Banana Splits turn murderous.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Danishka Esterhazy

Starring: Dani Kind, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Romeo Carere, Steve Lund, Maria Nash

the banana splits movie poster

Pitched  by Hanna-Barbera as 'The Monkees for kids', The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a children's variety show that ran on US TV from 1968-70. The show saw animated shorts bracketed by segments involving The Banana Splits, a rock group comprised of four blokes in life-size animal costumes. For many kids, they were the stuff of nightmares - especially Bingo, with his demonic grin like Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs - which might explain why the show found an audience among college age stoners, much like The Teletubbies and Spongebob Squarepants would in later decades.

Tapping into the unintentional creepiness of The Banana Splits is director Danishka Esterhazy's The Banana Splits Movie, which sees the furry foursome embark on a homicidal rampage. If you thought The Brady Bunch Movie and Starsky & Hutch were discourteous to their source material...

the banana splits movie review

The Banana Splits Movie posits an alternate reality where The Banana Splits are still recording a weekly live show, though they're now resigned to the crummiest soundstage on the Warner Bros lot and their fanbase is dwindling.

One devoted fan however is young Harley (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong), whose mother (Dani Kind) gifts him family tickets to see the Splits live at their next taping, where they are joined by a mix of kids and irony loving adult hipsters.

[ Read more: FrightFest 2019 Review - Critters Attack! ]

In this version of things, the Splits aren't jobbing stuntmen in furry outfits - they're robots!?!?!? When their deranged creator (Lionel Newton) subjects the Splits to their latest software update, it turns them into bloodthirsty killers, hunting down the adult audience members while subjecting the kids to a show they'll never forget.

the banana splits movie review

If you're going to take this unique approach to repackaging a long dormant property, you really need to embrace the insanity of the idea, something The Banana Splits Movie never fully does. The film suggests no more than a quick perusal of the show's Wikipedia page by its creators, as it rarely manages to exploit the personalities of the individual Banana Splits or find a way to integrate their iconography into the kills, which are staged in generic fashion by Esterhazy. Only composer Patrick Stump, of rock group Fall Out Boy, seems to click with the material, delivering a score that cleverly reworks the iconic earworm theme song as a creepy lullaby, not so much tra-la-la as terror-la-la. Warner Bros have dug into their back catalogue in more successfully zany fashion with Gremlins 2 and Animaniacs, and we're left to wonder what someone like Joe Dante might have done with this concept.

[ Read more: FrightFest 2019 Review - Dark Encounter ]

Two screenwriters (Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas) are credited with penning The Banana Splits Movie, and the resulting movie gives the impression they couldn't agree on the motivations behind their villains' actions. Along with the homicidal software update, we're also told that the Splits are having their show cancelled, which in itself might have made more sense as the impetus behind their rage.

the banana splits movie review

The network's Vice President head of programming claims the Splits are no longer relevant, and with this the movie seems to be commenting on how we discard pop culture when society outgrows its charms. But by rebooting a kids' TV show as a blood-soaked horror movie, the film itself is acknowledging that there's no place for The Banana Splits in our cynical modern age, which, honestly, is a depressing thought.

The Banana Splits Movie is on blu-ray/DVD/VOD now.

2019 movie reviews