Tra-la-la! La-la-la-lame. The Banana Splits Movie (2019)

Kicking off The Craggus’ 2019 #MonthOfSpooks contribution is the SyFy Original movie “The Banana Splits Movie”, a twisted concept in search of a point to make.

When Harley and his family (brother Austin, mother Beth, and father Mitch) attend a taping of The Banana Splits TV show as a birthday treat for the young superfan, it seems like a fun day out for the whole family. But when the network decides to cancel the show, its animatronic stars don’t take the news too well and when Drooper, Snorky, Bingo and Fleegle start putting the ‘whack’ into whacky, the family face a struggle to survive.

Although obviously made for a fraction of the budget, this would make a fitting companion piece to “The Happytime Murders” except instead of a comedy thriller that’s neither thrilling or comedic, this is a comedy horror which fails to provide chuckles or chills. It turns out putting cheap blood and gore in a zany kids show isn’t any more effective than adding sex and swearing to the muppets.

“The Banana Splits Movie” is an interchangeable plug and play concept that plumbs new depths of cynicism in exploiting the nostalgic name recognition of a vintage brand for what little glimmer of a boost it can provide for this flaccid, generic chop-‘em-up horror. There’s just no reason for this to be “The Banana Splits” – there’s no insight into the original show or any clever, subversive uses of the show’s tropes and gimmicks. It barely even tries to explain or contextualise the show for the (I suspect vast majority) of viewers who won’t have ever seen the original.

In more skilled hands and with more resources, this could have been a “Westworld” for the Generation X Saturday morning cartoon crows, a satire of the toxic navel-gazing of arrested development nostalgia but instead, it’s just a bunch of wasted opportunities, pulled-punch kills and IP pillaging.

4/10

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