September 15, 2019
I saw this movie's trailer and know I had to watch it. Like most people who saw this movie I grew up with these guys. They were just bumbling slap-stick guys in animal costumes but still as a Hanna Barbara kid I felt compelled to watch this movie.
It's a weird movie, because no one in is a GenXer, and most of this cast, and all of its main characters, were likely born after the Banana Splits ended in 1970, and the syndication ended around 1980. Yet the movie tried to show at least some interest for the 35 and under crowd. I did find this kind of strange that the show, in the movie, was on nowadays, and more young adults than kids were into it. As an adult I can't watch a show like this, but smaller kids love this stuff.
The movie focuses on a droll, modern family in suburbia. A father, who is self-absorbed with "work", his cell phone and his own image. A mother who really does not have much of a personality, other than being a mother, and her stoner son from her first marriage who, of course, doesnt like the stepfather. The younger son Harley is about seven years old, and he is obsessed with the Banana Splits. He also like dressing like some sort of fairy and has no friends except one and seems a bit...odd. The family get tickets to a live show of the Banana Splits for Harley, along with a strange sharp pointed object that could stab someone in the eye. One of Harley's classmates, a girl named Zoey, reluctantly attends the viewing as well. Zoey is a typical kid that outgrew shows like this.
I will try not to spoil the show, but things get strange. The four Banana Splits are no longer man in animal costumes. Instead theyre these weird, robotic puppets that can walk, talk, drive, act, and eventually kill people. After one nearly runs Harley over in a golf car, they get taken in for a tweaking and a software download. Only one, Drooper, get the upgrade and there is apparently a glitch. Around the same time the loathsome VP of programming tells the equally loathsome producer that he's cancelling the show in favor something edgy. At the same time the show begins, and Drooper gets violent. Nuff said.
With the scene, things get ever weirder. The Banana Splits have a guy name "Stevie" on stage with them who is a drunk who hates everything, and certain guests are selected to be VIPS to see the characters after the viewing and meet them. A couple of strange things happen here. Most of the audience are adults around 35. The kids are around 7-12 years old, way too old for a show like this. There are no kids under 5, and any parent who has been through a Barney concert or the Teletubbies knows these places are full of crazy little ones. I guess because the plot grows so much darker they needed to have older kids who just seems kind of uncomfortable.
The adult guests were obnoxious, and the ones that stayed for the post meeting after the show were just...weird. One was a father with a daughter who was about 13 and we was trying to get her a gig (No, no audition, glossy, resume, credentials, etc) and a twenty-something couple obsessed with the show. In the age of "bronies" and "furries" this shouldn't be too surprising but these were people who grew up way after the Banana Splits were gone, and likely knew little of Hanna Barbera. Ok, this next part is a spoiler:
Then everything just comes crashing down....People split up, kids gets kidnapped, giant animatronic dolls go one ghastly killing sprees wiping out all the men first and one woman, the loathsome producer. Adults die in every way possible with the Splits' props and the kids become a captive audience forced to watch a live taping of a furry snuff film...I was unconfortable.
But Mom, who had no personality at the beginning of the show, suddenly becomes Supermom. She gets all Ma-Chuck Norris on the puppets, wiping out Fleagle the dog who eventually becomes some sort of Terminator mess. This made me sad, Fleagle was my favorite. This made me also wonder how Fleagle and Bingo managed to get the glitch without the upgrade. And what about Snorky?
Snorky has an existantial crisis and becomes a more complex character, I will leave it at that.
So I don't really want to nit-pick too much but the kids, through it all, seemed relatively unscathed. I wasn't like that little girl dressed as a clown in Halloween or the kid that was eaten by the tree in Poltergeist. These modern kids are more hip to mechanical serial killers, apparently. Plus Supermom, who again turned into Chick Norris in yoga pants, saved the day...for most. It's kid of odd how the kids seems much more level headed and smarter than the parents, this does irritate me sometimes because lets face it, most of our kids would be scarred for life if four giant weapon-wielding furry robots slaughters their parents in front of them,
There are few other funny parts (Watch Poppy) and attempts at nostalgia that the younger generations really won't understand. Honestly the Banana Splits would not work with kids today...we had three channels, and limited choices.
Yet with all this, I felt weird because the Banana Splits were my generation and my generation was completely left out. They treated them as if they were created now, and not in 1970. Kudos to Eric Bauza, who, according to IMDB, did the voices, because they sounded great, especially by beloved, yet psychopathic Fleagle. Looking back now I always did find Bingo a little creepy....