The Banana Splits Movie Review: This horror spin on a Hanna-Barbera classic will leave viewers split
Putting a horror spin on a Hanna-Barbara, The Banana Splits Movie offers a gory good time and some funny moments, but viewers will be left split if the viewing was worth it.
The film follows Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) as he and his family attends a taping of a children’s variety show called The Banana Splits for Harely’s birthday. Though the show’s costumed, animatronic, and funny animal characters have entertained audiences for years, the show is actually about to be cancelled and it doesn’t sit well with the costumed characters. Due to their programming going a little haywire, the Splits are ready to do whatever it takes to keep their show alive – even if it’s a little sadistic. So, while the Splits go on a murderous spree to ensure that their show lives on forever, Harley and his family will have to survive the night and stay out of their murderous grasp.
Personally, the premise is solid, and it contains characters that could lead to some fun banter and dialogue. From a stage-dad trying to get his young daughter to be famous to a trendy social media star couple, there’s some fun character-types and tropes here that could’ve made for a fun and funny watch. Unfortunately, a lot of the adult characters are really not that much fun and are so unlikable that it’s hard to have fun with the movie. Obviously, a stage-dad, social media stars, people who work behind the scenes, and even Harley’s uncaring father (Steve Lund) are going to be a little narcissistic and annoying, but it completely consumes their characters they really suck the fun out of most situations. Really, viewers will only find themselves caring about Harley and the other younger cast members as they add some fun personality to the film. Harley’s love for the Splits, especially Snorky, is easily one of the most touching parts of the film and it was nice to see his friend Zoe (Maria Nash) grow a fondness for the Splits. I also really enjoyed Harley’s “step-brother” Austin (Romeo Carere) as he has a genuine care for Harley, even it feels as if he never really shows much emotion, and the romantic connection with one of the studio’s employees, Paige (Naledi Majola), was fine.
What you really come to a film like The Banana Splits Movie for, though, is the Splits themselves, the humor, and some incredibly gory kills. The film definitely delivers on most of this as the Splits are easily the best part of the film. Seeing Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snorky was great and the costume design is awesome. Watching them walk around with murderous intent was absolute blast and they were legitimately creepy at times – especially when the fuzzy costumes start to fall apart, and their cold machine interiors start to show. There’re some really fun, self-aware moments that come from all of the characters and makes the return of the Splits a bloody good time. I do wish that they were presented in a more light-hearted manner most of the time, though, as it would make their sadistic turn and acts more comedic.
There’s also a lot of fun kills that come from the Splits and nothing is off the table. From Snorky driving around in the Banana Buggie to victims attempting to survive “The Sloppy Time Course,” there’s a lot of fun to be had here. The gore was also pretty creative for the most part and the mix of practical effects and CGI is solid. Honestly, the final on-stage sequence that happens in the end is easily one of the best parts of the film and when viewers will see Fleegle and Drooper bring out a horrifying wheel, they’ll find themselves chanting Banana Split just as I did. However, even with these fun kills and fun vibes, the film’s tone dips too deep into dark horror and the darker tone makes the film not as fun as it should be. Frankly, the set design could’ve been explored more and, like I said before, more likable characters and more time with the Splits would’ve made for a more comedic and light-hearted tone that would’ve heavily improved the overall experience.
At the end of day, The Banana Splits Movie delivers exactly what you would expect – fun nostalgia with a horror spin. Even though the film leaves viewers mixed because of its inconsistent tone and bland characters, it’s hard to deny that the gory good time that Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snorky cook up is just an absolute treat.