A girl finds a strange friendship in her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend.
April (Hannah Marks) is a smart, funny, and foul-mouthed high school senior. She has been together with her boyfriend Nick (Dylan Sprouse) for the last two years. While they naturally went through some of the big moments together (falling in love, losing their virginities, senior prom), they’re going to colleges on the opposite sides of the country. April and Nick have a hard conversation where he’s disappointed in her decision to go away to college, but she doesn’t realize that they’re broken up until she sees him with another girl online. She goes to a party with her and Nick’s mutual friend Ben (Luke Spencer Roberts), only to find out that the new girl, Clara (Liana Liberato), is there also. When April gets drunk and tries to confront Clara, she instead finds out that Clara was unaware of the situation with Nick when they started seeing each other. Moreover, Clara and April quickly bond and start becoming fast friends. Unfortunately, Clara doesn’t want to break up with Nick, and that’s some kind of tension to deal with in a friendship.
The key to Banana Split is that it takes two lead characters that feel like best friends and gives them an almost irreconcilable problem that they constantly have to deal with. If they were older, it would seem stupid that they keep fighting over Nick, a guy who seems to be mostly unimpressive, but since they’re in High School and heading to college, the feelings are relatable to almost anyone who went through that time period. Unfortunately, because you’re familiar with it, you can kind of guess everything that is going to happen, because avoiding kids being stupid is just lying about reality. It’s still funny to watch most of the scenes play out, though, because the chemistry between Marks and Liberato is just that solid. Their friendship is one of the most interesting relationships I’ve seen in a comedy for a while. It’s not like they grow into it, either, it just happens almost the minute they meet. I secretly kept hoping they both would just realize they were more interested in each other than Nick, but, sadly, not that kind of movie.
Another big positive in the movie is that the soundtrack is great. The weird thing is that most of the song choices seem like they should be for people that are a bit older than our characters, but I think that might be a reflection of the fact that the two girls are more mature in some ways than their biological age, which makes it more devastating when they fall prey to immature passions.
This movie suffers a little bit from the fact that it doesn’t feel like they actually had 88 minutes worth of material, so the film gets stretched by sort of repeating the same scenes or montages in new locations without really adding much to the story. There are a few subplots, including April working at a movie theater with an awkward manager and her having an inappropriate moment with Ben, the Ducky of the movie. Still, the jokes that they use to occupy the time are definitely worth hearing, giving me quite a few chuckles, to the point that I barely even noticed that the plot was just being arbitrarily stretched. It helps that the movie contains a countdown until April’s orientation, meaning that you always know you’re approaching the end of the plot.
When I first heard of this film it was in a Facebook group that compared it to the film Booksmart. While I can say I get the comparison, since both are films featuring smart, fast-talking, dirty-minded high-school girls, Booksmart took home the Gold medal while this film only managed to eke out a bronze. That’s still pretty good, and I recommend seeing this film, but Booksmart was the higher-caliber cinema experience.
Overall, pretty entertaining. I’d recommend it if you like teen comedies and have some free time.
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