Banana Split: A Fun Teen Comedy For Everyone – Netflix Review

A girl finds a strange friendship in her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend.

SUMMARY

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. 

You can tell they’re friends because they dance like no one’s watching.

END SUMMARY

First off, if you came here looking for a review of The Banana Splits horror film, this is a different movie. I already reviewed that one here.

This movie has fewer flamethrowers, sadly.

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.

This for a guy who they can’t trust with the truth.

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. 

Like threatening to shank someone with a butter knife.

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. 

Makes sense, given that it’s the impetus.

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.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Package: Original in One =/= Original in All (Spoiler-Free)

SpoilerFree

Hey, so, here’s a bonus post because I can’t not write about this film and I have the buffer filled for the next week and by then it’ll be too late.

SYNOPSIS (SPOILER-FREE)

Five friends go camping together. Unfortunately, one of them, Jeremy (Eduardo Franco), accidentally cuts his penis off. He’s evacuated, but they send the wrong cooler with him, so his friends, Sean and Donnie (Daniel Doheny and Luke Spencer Roberts), along with Jeremy’s sister, Becky, and her friend Sarah (Geraldine Viswanathan and Sadie Calvano), have to trek through the woods and endure a series of wacky hi-jinks trying to get his severed member back to him.

ThePackage-2Jeremy.jpg
Jeremy did not speak in class today. He cried. If you didn’t get this joke, ask your parents.

END SYNOPSIS

“Hi-jinks ensue” has been the basis for comedy films for a long time. Have a crazy set-up, use it to create a sense of urgency that explains why the characters might act abnormally, see the film play out. Here’s the problem: Just having a different crazy set-up doesn’t make it a different movie. I mean, yes, a lot of the jokes are based around the fact that it’s a severed penis as opposed to, say, a severed foot, but the jokes aren’t all that great. They’re just dirtier, not cleverer. Now, yes, you get points for originality because, technically, having to think about sucking venom out of an unattached penis is different than the normal comedy situation of doing it to your buddy, but not enough to try and get 15 minutes out of the joke that we’ve all seen a hundred times.

ThePackage-1Cast.jpg
Yep, there’s a dick on the ground.

The other thing is that, honestly, the pacing of the film is weird, since they clearly ran out of some of the nature jokes early on and therefore had to figure out how to add another 30 minutes in other locations and situations that are largely too contrived for a movie that otherwise tries to be fairly realistic for a farce. Hell, there’s one scene that’s probably fifteen minutes long that literally amounts to nothing and just isn’t that funny. When I was watching it all I could think was “so… you just wanted to make a Lorena Bobbitt joke.” Except that the target audience for this movie is clearly teens, so I don’t think they’d get the reference.

ThePackage-3Bra.png
Your main characters are confused by bras in a movie featuring a lot of penis. Mature.

If I was going to say the bright side of the movie it’s that the actors are all pretty charming. Especially for a streaming film that is clearly designed to be a teenage gross-out comedy. All of them sell the fact that they’re dealing with a lot of stress and also still trying to keep their sanity and focus despite how ridiculous the situation gets. The problem is that the things they’re doing just aren’t great enough to really merit the quality of performance they’re giving. I’d expect all of them to have pretty good careers ahead, although you can see Doheny right now in the film Alex Strangelove in which he gives another amazing performance in a more well-crafted movie about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality.

Overall, I wrote this to tell you that this is the kind of film that you should only watch if you really liked the American Pie spin-off movies. Or if you’re drunk. Or if you just really want to see a lot of severed penises, but don’t want to watch Teeth.

ThePackage-4Teeth
Every man is uncomfortable during this movie. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.