The Banana Splits Movie is more in line with what I expected Willy’s Wonderland to be. The contrast between a silly kids show with big furry animals and a murderous rampage had all the potential to be great. However, once everything kicked off, it was all dark and unfortunately, more like Willy’s Wonderland. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie.
The fact that the movie is based off based on an actual show, called The Banana Splits, and its characters is fascinating. I’ve never heard of the show, so it wasn’t a big deal to me while watching the movie. Warner Bros. Television Group’s Blue Ribbon Content division collaborated with Blue Ice Pictures on producing this adaptation of the television series. making it into an R-rated slasher. This seems odd, but we live in a timeline where Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey exists.
The Banana Splits Movie takes the familiar, lovable characters from the original series and plunges them into a horror-themed, rollercoaster ride of a film. Although it has its issues, and it seems like a misguided attempt to cash in on nostalgia, it’s a clever, thrilling, and unabashedly fun homage to the source material. Then again, I never watched the original.
The setup is simple, but it serves as an effective backdrop for the unfolding chaos. What’s remarkable is how seamlessly the movie blends elements of suspense and dark humor. The plot revolves around a live taping of the Banana Splits Adventure Hour show, which is being broadcast to the world. A family gets tickets to attend the taping and this is where the mayhem begins.
Beth (Dani Kind) gets the tickets as a birthday present for her youngest son, Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong), it’s his favorite show of course and the whole family goes. Including his older brother Austin (Romeo Carere), who is dealing with the complexities of being a teenager. Also their stepfather, Mitch (Steve Lund).
The actors do a decent job of conveying the tension between their characters’ relationships, attempting to add depth to the story beyond just the horror aspects. It’s mostly thrown in out of nowhere as exposition, feeling like something of an afterthought. It’s not often you find well-drawn family dynamics in a horror movie, but The Banana Splits Movie at least tries in this regard.
We can’t forget the stars of the show – the Banana Splits themselves. The performers behind these characters do a relatively good job of bringing the characters to life, both in their friendly and menacing modes, they don’t change or act differently. Their physicality and expressions are as good as they can be for people in giant masks.
They never come off as very scary but are kind of creepy. I think it would’ve worked better if the movie kept up with the contrast of colorful family-friendly furries and the dark brutal murdering. Also, the animatronic aspect doesn’t work. It’s clearly just people in these suits and maybe they should’ve played it that way.
The show plays out exactly as expected for a kid show about fluffy animals in a band. During this time you get a good idea of the movie’s bad pacing. It doesn’t drag on, but simple situations seemingly take forever as other scenes play out while other characters are doing things off-screen. Not a big deal, but noticeable.
We find out the show is being canceled and, separate from that, the animatronics go haywire all on their own. This is part of why it could’ve played out better with the furries being human instead of animatronics. They’re actors with something to lose and want revenge, instead of robots that are clearly humans in suits.
The Banana Splits Movie is an unexpected and delightful dark humor romp. It has its issues, but does more than others like it. It knows what it is and uses that to its advantage with the horror and the humor. It never takes itself too seriously, but doesn’t get too silly either. It has a good blend of both.