Those nonsense words have meant something to me since I was a kid watching the original ‘Banana Splits Adventure Hour’. Now, thanks to the work of writers Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas (creators of Best Friends Whenever, the finest teen-time-travel show Disney ever canceled), it will forever mean something else. Something… darker.
When I watched the trailer for The Banana Splits Movie, I thought it was a fun take on an older show. I did not expect the care and attention that Elinoff, Thomas, director Danishka Esterhazy and the cast would put into this project.
Maybe you remember the Banana Splits as they were. Maybe you’ve just sat disbelieving as an older friend told you of the TV show where grown people in weird animal suits re-did The Monkees. Either way, if you enjoy vicious, efficient horror, you should check this re-imagining out.
The movie stars Harley (Finlay Wojitak-Hissong), brother Austin (Romeo Carere), mother Beth (Dani Kind), father Mitch (Steve Lund) and friend Zoe (Maria Nash) as they attend a taping of titular show, which is supposed to be a fun-filled birthday for young Harley and business as usual for Rebecca (Sara Canning), the producer of the series.
The side characters nearly steal the show, with bitter human co-star Stevie (Richard White) and Splits superfan Thadd (Kiroshan Naidoo) both used to great comedic effect. Very little goes to waste in this script, as beat after beat is set up and executed.
The Splits are autonomous robots (a feat of engineering handwaved away without a thought) who, of course, go haywire. Mayhem ensues. The script is tight, clocking in just under 90 minutes. We get to the show taping in no time, and the deaths are spectacular in a campy, 80s horror way. Practical effects and fake blood abound.
The story is incredibly efficient in how it gets me from opening credits through family introduction and into the action. I felt trust from the pacing immediately. The filmmakers obviously care about the source material, but the eye was on a genuinely entertaining final product. The ending contains both my favorite kill of the movie, as well as a lovely opening for more story.
From the trailer, I thought perhaps the robot Splits were possessed, or cursed, or maybe the ghost of a serial killer blah blah blah. I was pleasantly surprised to find the story is even simpler – the show is being canceled, and the robots aren’t happy about it. Something about this setup – the easy revenge motive, the us/them tension it creates between the child fans and the adult co-workers – works wonderfully for me. I found myself siding with and against the Splits at various points, hoping for some parents to get theirs, while scared for other characters.
Bloody, inspired, silly, and streamlined – The Banana Splits Movie made up a mess more fun than expected.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm