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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review: The Banana Splits Movie

Director: Danishka Esterhazy
Screenplay: Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas
Year: 2019

Synopsis: As a birthday gift, Hayley together with his family goes to see a live taping of the Banana Splits. As part of the program, they have the chance to meet the characters with the bad luck that some issue in the software of the robots that give life to the Banana Splits turns them into bloodthirsty killers. A family night in an innocent children’s program turns into s butchery by the Banana Splits.

What happens when someone tries to revive a TV concept for kids that have been irrelevant for over 40 years and turns it into a horror movie? You get “The Banana Splits Movie”. If you don’t know who the Banana Splits are, you are not alone in this world. “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour” was a TV program by Hanna-Barbera, which had a short running time, producing only 31 episodes from 1968 until 1970.

Based on this series, someone had the idea to bring out these characters from the obscurity and irrelevance they were in to turn them into killers. These are difficult times and we all have to reinvent ourselves to find a job. This sudden change in focus from a children’s concept to a horror one is reminiscent of the successful video game “Five Nights at Freddy’s”, which turns an establishment, much like the entertainment center for kids Chuck E. Cheese’s, into a hell.

Before continuing talking about “The Banana Splits Movie” there are two things I need to clarify: first is that this is a campy premise and second, this movie was thought of to be released in the TV chain SyFy, which reputation with the quality of their movies is known by many. With this in mind, it’s evident that this movie is not one to take too seriously, but rather one to have a good time.

In “The Banana Splits Movie” Beth (Dani Kind; “Wynonna Earp”) gifts her son Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong; “The Kindness of Strangers’), who is a fan of the Banana Splits, tickets to see one of their shows. Her disengaged husband Mitch (Steve Lund; “Hemlock Grove”), her older son Austin (Romeo Carere; “Pyewacket”), and Zoe (Maria Nash; “Polar”), a friend of Hayley, go with them to what can be the last show, as the program was canceled. At the same time that this news land, the creator of the robots that give life to the Banana Splits updates their software, but instead of improving them, they are turned into killer robots. After the show, a group of people gets backstage access to meet the Banana Splits, but this encounter is not as cute as they had imagined.

Earlier this year, “Child’s Play” had already made it clear that artificial intelligence is still not in a good level to be used in children's toys, and “The Banana Splits Movie” reinforces this observation. These adorable stuffed animal-shaped robots turn into unhinged killers creating a butchery in the studio where the program is filmed. This movie from director Danishka Esterhazy (“Level 16”) never gets to be scary, but it does get to be very macabre by showing graphic deaths by the hands of these adorable characters. Creativity for deaths has a lot of space in a movie like this, even using a huge lollipop, and is where it shines.

As expected from this type of movies, the story is nothing more than a series of events to justify the deaths and nothing more. Much of the plot makes little sense and there are plenty of continuity problems, but if you get into this movie expecting a deep and well-developed movie, you are the problem. Similarly, the characters have many development problems and most of them are only useful to increase the body count

“The Banana Splits Movie” more than looking to be a coherent movie, tries to be fun and it manages it by combining characters from a family program that nobody remembers with macabre graphic violence. Don’t expect the plot to be captivating or the characters to be memorable; expect many campy situations and buckets of blood. I feel it didn’t make the most out of it potential to be darker, maybe because of its imminent release in a TV chain, but ends up being a fun movie.

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