The horror-scape sometimes seems inundated with “so-bad-its-good” movies. Of course, some of these are just plain bad. Worse, oversaturation carries the risk of making them all lose their luster, as anything can be transformed into a tired old gimmick for a jaded viewer. Nevertheless, The Banana Splits Movie pretty much rocks, and I’m not sure why. I really don’t want to overstate my case here, but this movie is considerably better than I was expecting. Director Danishka Esterhazy obviously knew how to bring this zany, over-the-top story to life. It couldn’t have been the easiest thing in the world, either. The premise is pretty far out there.

Basically, The Banana Splits Movie takes the Hanna-Barbera series to new, darker terrain while tapping into the frequent fear and distrust of artificial intelligence. When they find out they’re being canceled, it kind of sets them haywire and, well, things take a rather dark turn pretty fast. In a way, it could be a pretty solid companion piece to the Child’s Play A.I. reboot from the same year, which definitely carries similar themes. Also, both movies are surprisingly effective at what they do while being sufficiently different. While I wasn’t that familiar with The Banana Splits as an entity, I could nevertheless understand their appeal, having similar characters I loved as a child (TMNT, I’m looking at you!).

The Characters

One could discuss at length the non-human characters here, as they seem to have distinct personalities, too. However, this is oddly a family movie of sorts, loosely examining some of the dynamics between mother, son and a-hole stepdad. Specifically, we have Dani Kind as Beth Williams, the mother to Harley Williams (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong). You also have Austin (Romeo Carere), a slacker-type who’s constantly at odds with his stepdad, Mitch (Steve Lund).

Accompanying them is Zoe (Maria Nash), who honestly doesn’t do much besides hang around. There’s also a stage manager character (Sara Canning) and a page named Paige (Naledi Majola). Then there’s Stevie (Richard White), the human co-star of The Banana Splits who actually hates them. The lovable animatronic miscreants were created by a man named Karl (Lionel Newton). Other stars include Keeno Lee Hector, Lia Sachs, Kiroshan Naidoo, and Celina Martin.

Could There Be a Sequel?

Personally, I see no reason there couldn’t be a followup to The Banana Splits Movie.” In fact, it wasn’t panned much by critics and it has a fair amount of normal fans, too. There have definitely been lesser films to receive sequels (including some big-budget, critically acclaimed crap-fests). I also remember the movie pretty well days after seeing it, which doesn’t always happen.

Anyway, my vague advice to would-be filmmakers interested in another Splits project: Do something unexpected, but without being entirely unlike the original. I’m really not sure what that would entail, but it probably shouldn’t just be a highly familiar retread. In any case, with or without a sequel, I expect to see more films about artificially intelligent villains, as well as assorted down-on-their-luck monsters thrown aside by economic change.

What are your thoughts on The Banana Splits Movi“? Were you able to get that intentionally annoying theme song out of your head?

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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