An Unbiased and Completely True Review Of..."The Banana Splits Movie"
What's It All About?
In this cinematic endeavor, the Banana Splits (Bingo, Drooper, Snorky, and Fleegle) have been on television for decades, amassing a following of fans over the years, although they can't appreciate the fame, as they are all robotic actors programmed to perform. One such is a superfan of the show, Harley Williams, whose mom (Beth) and stepfather (Mitch) get him tickets for a taping of the show for his birthday. Along for the ride is his brother Austin and his friend Zoe. Arriving at Taft studios, where the show is taped, there is a line of eager fans waiting to get in. The PR or studio liaison Paige (who has an assistant named Doug who follows her everywhere), meet the fans and get them pumped up prior to entering the soundstage. Here, we get the chance to meet others heading in for the taping, namely Thadd and Poppy (a power vlogging couple), a girl by the name of Parker and her showbiz dad Jonathan (who wants her to be the next big star), and lastly the studio guard, Sal.
Just prior to showtime, the new VP of programming for the studio, Andy, tells the producer of the show, Rebecca that he has decided to cancel the show after this particular taping due to low ratings and the expense of keeping the Splits in good repair. After getting a software update from Karl, the creator and repairman for the Splits, Fleegle, the first to get the update, hears Karl say that the show must be saved no matter the cost. At this, Fleegles eyes turn red. The carnage begins.
Bingo kidnaps Andy, pulling him up into the rafters of the studio. Drooper kills the only live human from the show (Stevie, who still dresses and acts like a little kid when taping the show, keeping his character identical to the original airings), by shoving an oversized lollipop into his throat. Adding some family drama at this point in the horror, Beth learns that Mitch has been cheating and tells him to leave. As Mitch is following her into the studio, he instead find's the decapitated head of Sal, panics, runs outside and is summarily run over by Snorky who is driving the Bananamobile.
Back inside the killfest studio, Poppy and Thadd are walking through the studio, coming to Fleegles magic box set. Thadd, assuming this is the appropriate time, proposes to Poppt whilst streaming live. Poppy excitedly accepts the proposal, just in time for Fleegle to arrive and seal Thadd into the magic box. Fleegle performs the magic trick, but using a real saw in place of the prop one, cutting Thadd in half in front of Poppy. Just before Fleegle reaches Poppy, he is distracted by the sound of Harley and Zoe searching for Snorky (Harley's favorite Split, and one he feels a special connection to). Fleegle catches them and takes them back to Karl's workshop, placing them in the supply cage along with Parker, who'd been captured by Fleegle after her dad's face was burned off by Drooper as Jonathan was trying to get an audition for Parker to star in the show.
The rest of the showgoers who are still alive find Jonathan, badly burned and barely alive. He tells them that the Splits are killing people. Paige finds the studio phones are disconnected and all the cell phones from audience members (no filming allowed, folks) are all destroyed. Beth defeats Bingo (a win for the good guys!), before she and Austin come across a hysterical Poppy who willingly accepts their offer to team up with them. Back in the workshop, Karl returns, justifying the carnage created by the robots, who are only trying to protect their show and follow the directive to save it at all costs. The kids try to convince Karl to release them, and he nearly does, but decides against it, as they will only try to stop the Splits. Drooper arrives at that moment, placing Bingo in the repair stand of the workshop, demanding that Karl repair him. Drooper departs, and the kids escape from the cell and force Karl in.
Out on the main stage, Rebecca and Jonathan, still holding on, despite the horrific injuries, are forced by Fleegle and Drooper to run the show's comedic obstacle course. Jonathan can't make it through and is stabbed with a giant key by Fleegle. Rebecca reaches the end of the course, and her victory prize is getting her face smashed by an oversized hammer by Drooper.
The escaped kids (Harley, Zoe, and Parker) are looking for an escape route out of the studio and come across Snorky, who they manage to override the programming and talk him into helping the kids. Back at the workshop, the remaining adults arrive on scene and ask Karl how to stop this madness and shut the robots down. While Karl clams up, remaining silent and refusing to answer, the distinct sound of music is hear in the shop. The group trace it to a hatch in the floor. They begin to descend the ladder, but before she starts down, Poppy sees a mask that looks like an owl on the wall. It is labeled on the hook as belonging to Hooty, an unused concept for a female Split. She finally loses her grip on reality, pulling parts of the unused items and putting them on, killing Karl with the sharp clawed gloves to avenge Thadd's murder.
At the bottom of the hatch is an underground tunnel that is filled with all the dead bodies of the adults left in the building, save for our group here. They find Fleegle and Drooper performing sadistic versions of the show acts. They burn Stevie's body, rip Andy apart via quartering, all of this happening in front of the audience made entirely of the children who came to see the show. Snorky arrives with his "prisoners", chains them to the benches with other kids, slipping a key to Harley on the sly. This all culminates into a battle royale between survivors, robots, and rescue crews who have finally made it to the studio.
So What Do I Think?
I'm really dating myself here when I say that I grew up in a time where the Banana Splits were actually on TV, and were seriously one of the most bizarre kids shows at the time. That being said, when I first heard that someone out there had decided to take a stab at making a movie about these characters in a modern day setting I was intrigued. When I found out it was going into the horror movie realm, it piqued my interest even more. If CHiPs and Baywatch could be made into comedies (albeit bad ones), making The Splits into a ax wielding nightmare fuel couldn't be a bad decision, could it?
I had, from the trailers, assumed that the people in the costumes took unkindly to being cancelled, or maybe went insane having to perform for kids every single day and decided to go on a rampage. Instead, it is simply 5 Nights at Freddy's:The Movie.
It made me wonder if the producers behind this movie wanted to beat the much rumored Freddy's movie to the screen (or DVD in this case) by making the first go of it. If this is the case, well, they missed the mark some. If not, well that gives anyone brave enough to create a Freddy's film a nice template for "What Not To Do".
The acting in the film (if it can be called such), falls between the wooden and unemotional to the completely over the top emotive scale. Nobody in this film can 'act' with any ability or bringing an iota of realism or empathy to the character they play.
The people in the studio make incredibly and increasingly dumb ideas, leading to their inevitable death. This isn't dumb ideas like the let's sneak off and have sex, guaranteeing our death like most horror films. Why stop during the murder spree to live stream proposing to your girlfriend? I dunno, but it slowed them down enough to get killed and/or be driven insane with grief.
The idea that during the software upload the mere fact of the studio cancelling the show causes this all to happen made me want to tear my hair from my head. Why would the robots take this as a threat to their continued existence? Has nobody said anything remotely like this before, even jokingly? If the AI (if there is such a thing depicted here), is all artificial and not too intelligent, then why do they defy the initial programming of being performers to becoming killers? Who knows.
I appreciate the fact that the creators of this film tried to make something new from the characters, but really missed the mark on creating something special. The ending of the film, of course, lends itself to a possible sequel, but for the sake of human kind, I hope that there is no follow up on that.
I had high hopes for this project based on the trailer, and was truly baited and switched on this. Not recommended for general consumption by anyone. Avoid this stinkfest at all costs.