The Banana Splits Movie Blu-ray Review

Deeply Disturbing 2.5 Stars

The Banana Splits Movie is just so wrong on so many levels. I have one question to the producers – Why?

The Banana Splits (2019)
Released: N/A
Rated: N/A
Runtime: N/A
Director: Danishka Esterhazy
Genre: N/A
Cast: Dani Kind, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Romeo Carere, Steve Lund
Writer(s): Jed Elinoff, Scott Thomas
Plot: N/A
IMDB rating: N/A
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 29 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc Blu-ray eco keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 08/27/2019
MSRP: $24.98

The Production: 2/5

When I first saw the trailer and press release for The Banana Splits Movie, I initially thought this must be some new trailer parody on Funny or Die. I so wish that were the case, but no, this is a “real” movie now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and various streaming services, and set to premiere on SyFy later this Fall.

It is young Harley’s (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) birthday, and to celebrate, his family is taking him to a taping of The Banana Splits, his favorite TV show that somehow is still on the air 50 years after it premiered. Unbeknownst to the audience, the show has been cancelled by Andy (Daniel Fox) the network’s new Vice President of Programming minutes before the show is about to begin. One of the Banana Splits, Drooper, overhears the cancellation while being reprogrammed (apparently the Splits are robots, not actors in suits!), and misinterprets the phrase “the show must go on,” prompting him and the rest of the Splits to go on a killing spree.

For those that may not remember, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a real show that aired Saturday mornings on NBC from 1968-1970. It was a variety show created by Hanna-Barbara, featuring the Banana Splits as hosts, who would perform musical numbers and skits as interstitials before introducing animated or live action serials, such as Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers, Micro Ventures, and Danger Island (directed by Richard Donner). The show uses the characters of the Splits – Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snork –  but turns the show into something more as a cross between Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Double Dare, adding a human character named Stevie (Richard White) who tires of being second banana (pun intended) to a bunch of robots. Using the show as a backdrop for a bunch of robots gone haywire and gruesomely murdering cast, crew, and audience members trapped within the soundstage, in my opinion, was just a bad idea. Would the movie have worked if they had used a fictional TV show? Not likely, as the acting is often over the top, as is the gore, and the story and characters are your stock slasher types – the selfish step father Mitch (Steve Lund), the clueless mother who must rise to the challenge Beth (Dani Kind), the weird kid Harley, the misunderstood older brother Austin (Romeo Carere, who is made up to look like The Monkees’ Micheal Nesmith), the evil scientist Karl (Lionel Newton), the obsessive fans Thadd (Kiroshan Naidoo) and Poppy (Celina Martin), etc. Director Danishka Esterhazy (Level 16) and writers Jed Elinoff & Scott Thomas (Malibu Rescue) milk the single joke of a kids show turned R-rated horror movie for the full 89 minutes, which is 88 minutes too long.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The Banana Splits was shot digitally, and the results are rather disappointing. There is a haze that permeates the film throughout, which at first I thought was my display, so I checked the contrast settings which were normal and untouched, so it is definitely either in the source material or an intentional creative choice. This haze causes the image to appear soft, which affects the fine details like individual strands of fur that often look clumpy. Colors are vibrant although not quite to the level of the original TV show. But then again, this is a direct-to-video release that is destined to premiere as a SyFy Saturday Night Movie.

Audio: 3/5

The Banana Splits Movie features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is disappointing for a horror film. This is a very front and center heavy track, playing it safe for broadcast on television. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, but surrounds are rarely used for anything discrete besides adding ambience to the scene. LFE is average, about what you would expect from a weekly television show.

Special Features: 2/5

The Banana Splits: Behind the Horror (1080p; 8:21): The cast and crew discuss how creepy the original costume designs were and how they naturally lend themselves to a horror film.

Terror on Set (1080p; 6:25): Director Danishka Esterhazy, Executive VP of Blue Ribbon Content Peter Girardy, and Production Designer Bobby Cardoso discuss the set, costume, and overall production design of the movie.

Breaking News! – The Banana Splits Massacre (1080p; 1:59): A series of TV news briefs about the events in the movie.

DVD Copy: The movie in 480p with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, plus The Banana Splits: Behind the Horror featurette.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere.

Overall: 2.5/5

What would have likely been funny as a trailer parody has been stretched beyond its limit to an ill-conceived 89 minute R-rated feature that I fear many parents or grand parents who lovingly remember the original series may unwittingly rent at the local Redbox for the kids and be in for a major surprise and shock. For the curious, I’d suggest waiting for the SyFy broadcast later this year.

Published by

Todd Erwin

editor,member

44 Comments

  1. I think the movie has a clever idea – it's more creative than a straight reboot – but the execution is terrible.

    Also not sure what the audience is. Anyone old enough to remember "Banana Splits" wouldn't want to watch a movie like this!

  2. Between this and The Happytime Murders, while I can understand on some level the desire to be subversive with traditionally “children’s” programming, there’s really nothing subversive here; just crassness for crassness’ sake.

  3. Per Warner Bros. website:

    Blue Ribbon Content is Warner Bros. Television Group’s digital series production unit, continuing the Television Group’s commitment to create new and compelling programs for the digital marketplace. BRC is charged with developing and producing live-action series for digital platforms, tapping the creative talent already working at the Studio while also identifying opportunities for collaboration with new writers and producers. In addition to live-action programming, BRC produces animated content and is also experimenting with emerging platforms such as virtual reality.

    BRC’s slate includes original program concepts as well as new shows based on Warner Bros. Entertainment’s wide-ranging collection of intellectual properties.

    Sort of sounds like BRC is allowed to pillage any IP that is owned by WB.

  4. Stephen_J_H

    I watched it courtesy of my cousin's Plex server. Glad I didn't spend any money, but that's 90ish minutes of my life I'll never get back. It's Happytime Murders bad.

    At least "Happytime" had talent involved. This doesn't!

  5. BobO’Link

    OK… I'm a 60s kid and watched The Banana Splits Adventure Hour during first run. There was *nothing* else on. The "Banana Splits" were horrid with the best parts of the show the misc. cartoons/serials they introduced. It gave me a life-long opinion that Sid and Marty Krofft are hacks that somehow manage to sell pure crap on a cracker to the networks. I was under the impression this was a long lost movie done at the time and couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. Then I find out it's not – it's a new movie – a horror movie – based on the characters – and wonder just why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. I can't see it even playing off nostalgia from anyone who might have actually liked that show.

    In spite of that I have a twisted compulsion to watch this steaming pile…

    Don't. As bad as the original Splits were, this is worse.

  6. BobO’Link

    OK… I'm a 60s kid and watched The Banana Splits Adventure Hour during first run. There was *nothing* else on. The "Banana Splits" were horrid with the best parts of the show the misc. cartoons/serials they introduced. It gave me a life-long opinion that Sid and Marty Krofft are hacks that somehow manage to sell pure crap on a cracker to the networks. I was under the impression this was a long lost movie done at the time and couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. Then I find out it's not – it's a new movie – a horror movie – based on the characters – and wonder just why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. I can't see it even playing off nostalgia from anyone who might have actually liked that show.

    In spite of that I have a twisted compulsion to watch this steaming pile…

    Stephen_J_H

    Don't. As bad as the original Splits were, this is worse.

    If you are in a rush to torture yourself, the movie is available at Redbox. If you can wait, it is set to air on SyFy next month.

  7. Even if it had been tried and failed, Seth MacFarlane's aborted reboot of The Flintstones couldn't possibly have been worse.

    Todd Erwin

    Per Warner Bros. website:

    Sort of sounds like BRC is allowed to pillage any IP that is owned by WB.

    "Pillage" is the word for which "reboot" is a euphemism. Were they the same division responsible for putting Tom and Jerry in a shot-for-shot Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory remake?

  8. The end is Nigh :excl::emoji_fearful: … 🙁 I checked out the electronics section of Wal*Mart and they had two slots for the Banana Splits film. The blu-ray one was empty!!! And the DVD one still had copies left.

    I'm thinking some poor grandpa is going to invite the grand-kids over for a fun time and then …

    Sigmund Freud himself wouldn't be able to undo the mess to the little tykes' psyche. :emoji_poop::emoji_pouting_cat:

  9. Colin Jacobson

    If the filmmakers had been clever, they'd have mentioned Bob Marley at some point! 😀

    I imagine the executors of Bob Marley's estate (not to mention his son Ziggy) would rather he not be associated with this.

  10. Colin Jacobson

    the execution is terrible

    That axe on the Blu-Ray cover looks extremely rusty, and the character wielding it looks deeply disturbed, even without the axe! Each of his murders must be a terrible execution, indeed!

  11. BobO’Link

    OK… I'm a 60s kid and watched The Banana Splits Adventure Hour during first run. There was *nothing* else on. The "Banana Splits" were horrid with the best parts of the show the misc. cartoons/serials they introduced.

    There was another show that featured a villain that called herself Witchy Poo. What sort of self-respecting villain calls herself Witchy Poo?

  12. BobO’Link

    OK… I'm a 60s kid and watched The Banana Splits Adventure Hour during first run. There was *nothing* else on. The "Banana Splits" were horrid with the best parts of the show the misc. cartoons/serials they introduced. It gave me a life-long opinion that Sid and Marty Krofft are hacks that somehow manage to sell pure crap on a cracker to the networks. I was under the impression this was a long lost movie done at the time and couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. Then I find out it's not – it's a new movie – a horror movie – based on the characters – and wonder just why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. I can't see it even playing off nostalgia from anyone who might have actually liked that show.

    In spite of that I have a twisted compulsion to watch this steaming pile…

    Not to be That Guy, since I agree that the original show was pretty terrible, but The Krofft brothers only made the suits. They didn't have anything to do with the actual production of the show. Several of the shows that they actually produced were pretty entertaining and creative as far as Saturday Morning fare went. Pufnstuf is still pretty amazing, both in its visuals and songs (even if the jokes are corny) and Land of the Lost, at least during its first couple of seasons, was some pretty heady Sci-Fi that included some former Star Trek folks among its group of writers.

    Plus, I will defend the entertainment value of The Paul Lynde Halloween Special until my dying day. In addition to the gloriously-campy Mr. Lynde, it had Margaret Hamilton in full wicked witch mode and the first American TV appearance of KISS. As a kid in the 70's, it rocked my world.

    We will not speak of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

  13. Brian Kidd

    Not to be That Guy, since I agree that the original show was pretty terrible, but The Krofft brothers only made the suits. They didn't have anything to do with the actual production of the show. Several of the shows that they actually produced were pretty entertaining and creative as far as Saturday Morning fare went. Pufnstuf is still pretty amazing, both in its visuals and songs (even if the jokes are corny) and Land of the Lost, at least during its first couple of seasons, was some pretty heady Sci-Fi that included some former Star Trek folks among its group of writers.

    Plus, I will defend the entertainment value of The Paul Lynde Halloween Special until my dying day. In addition to the gloriously-campy Mr. Lynde, it had Margaret Hamilton in full wicked witch mode and the first American TV appearance of KISS. As a kid in the 70's, it rocked my world.

    We will not speak of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

    I think I first saw Kiss on that Paul Lynde special. I became a Kiss fan early in 1977. Coincidence? Probably not! 🙂

  14. Brian Kidd

    We will not speak of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

    Even Robert Reed dressed as Carmen Miranda? Wouldn't such a taboo be better placed upon Pink Lady and Jeff (aka Fred Silverman's Waterloo) even though that got a complete DVD set?

  15. MatthewA

    Even Robert Reed dressed as Carmen Miranda? Wouldn't such a taboo be better placed upon Pink Lady and Jeff (aka Fred Silverman's Waterloo) even though that got a complete DVD set?

    To be fair, Pink Lady & Jeff was able to fit the entire run on a single DVD, if I remember correctly. 😉

    Confession: I used to love watching Pink Lady & Jeff during its original run. I was an odd child.

  16. It's funny how many shows that were considered bombs back in the day actually had millions of viewers. TV technology over the last 30 years really has made the pie bigger but made the individual slices (i.e. number of eyeballs on screen) thinner.

  17. Thomas Newton

    There was another show that featured a villain that called herself Witchy Poo. What sort of self-respecting villain calls herself Witchy Poo?

    The show was called H. R. Pufnstuf … It spawned a movie …
    [​IMG]

    Which I made my mommy take me to see.

    And Witchiepoo was the name of Billie Haye's character on the show …
    [​IMG]

    Welcome back to the 60s and 70s … :emoji_bust_in_silhouette:

  18. BobO’Link

    OK… I'm a 60s kid and watched The Banana Splits Adventure Hour during first run. There was *nothing* else on. The "Banana Splits" were horrid with the best parts of the show the misc. cartoons/serials they introduced. It gave me a life-long opinion that Sid and Marty Krofft are hacks that somehow manage to sell pure crap on a cracker to the networks. I was under the impression this was a long lost movie done at the time and couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. Then I find out it's not – it's a new movie – a horror movie – based on the characters – and wonder just why anyone would want to watch that kind of dreck. I can't see it even playing off nostalgia from anyone who might have actually liked that show.

    In spite of that I have a twisted compulsion to watch this steaming pile…

    FTR- The Banana Splits was Hanna-Barbera …
    [​IMG]

  19. Stephen_J_H

    Between this and The Happytime Murders, while I can understand on some level the desire to be subversive with traditionally "children's" programming, there's really nothing subversive here; just crassness for crassness' sake.

    Robot Chicken already does better in ten-minute bursts what these cannot accomplish in 90 minutes. Family Guy has been doing it for two decades now. And after that much time, R- or X-rated versions of children's media is no longer subversive, just another tediously outdated 90s trope.

    Colin Jacobson

    At least "Happytime" had talent involved. This doesn't!

    I hate to say this but I'm glad Jim Henson wasn't able to see that.

  20. Brian Kidd

    WHAAAA??? I stand both corrected and astounded. lol. Spent too much time in the hot tub with Kei and Mei, I guess. Addled my brain.

    They probably could have crammed it into 2 DVDs with a 150-minute running time, but that would've been a lot to put on 1 disc, especially since it includes a few bonus features.

    6 50-minute episodes across 3 discs probably makes the most sense.

    Apparently I'm the only person who formally reviewed this title! My review is the only one listed on DVD Basen!

  21. When I was a kid I watched some of the old school 50s/60s H-B cartoons in reruns when Smurfs was in its network run, but somehow this one escaped me. For some reason, their 70s output never appealed to me. I felt the opposite about Disney; they cut their budgets, too, but not to this extent!

    Colin Jacobson

    Nope – 3 DVDs!

    http://dvdmg.com/pinkladyandjeff.shtml

    They even cleared all the music which makes me wonder why that could get the whole enchilada for that but not That Sid And Marty Show With the Wesson Lady and Her Paramount TV Sitcom Family On It.* That only got a 2-disc compilation and a nice interview with the two youngest siblings, one of whom I have met.

    B-ROLL

    Sigmund Freud himself wouldn't be able to undo the mess to the little tykes' psyche. :emoji_poop:

    Even Bob Newhart couldn't minimize that much damage.

    *I've always wondered whether Florence could have carried a variety show with just her and not her other former co-stars.

  22. MatthewA

    They even cleared all the music which makes me wonder why that could get the whole enchilada for that but not That Sid And Marty Show With the Wesson Lady and Her Paramount TV Sitcom Family On It.* That only got a 2-disc compilation and a nice interview with the two youngest siblings, one of whom I have met.

    Some kind soul made recordings of the entire series from what appears to be the network feed to local affiliates. They were up on YouTube for a while, but I doubt that they still are. There are definitely some gems that weren't on the DVD set.

    As for whether or not Florence Henderson could have succeeded on her own, I think that it's possible she would have had some success had her show been about ten years earlier before the Brady Bunch eclipsed her Musical Theatre career. I don't know, though. She was certainly talented and lovely, but not especially charismatic as a host, although I seem to remember enjoying her cooking show she did on TNN back in the day.

  23. But then she would have been competing with Carol Burnett and the show would inevitably have been compared to hers.

    And then there was the whole issue of the coveted Saturday Morning Cartoon spin-off*. The Brady Kids settled for Filmation while the Partridge Family got a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that (apparently) was supposed to have been a Jetsons reboot but instead put them in outer space! Funny how two of the flagship H-B properties — that and The Flintstones** — can't get rebooted successfully now anymore, even though we still see multiple iterations of Scooby-Doo***, but The Banana Splits can. I don't even remember it being rerun much on cable before the rise of Cartoon Network, and I even watched Pixie and Dixie when USA had them!

    *Imagine today's live-action shows getting animated with what animation can do today. Imagine Mad Men reborn as an H-B-style cartoon or a throwback to 1960's Disney, or Breaking Bad in anime.
    **Despite now being owned by Warner Bros., the presence of Elizabeth Montgomery and Ann-Margrock, err Margaret, in guest appearances gives away the Screen Gems connection.
    ***Which is a misquote of that Frank SInatra song "Strangers in the Night" which he ended with "dooby-dooby-doo." I don't know where the "Scooby" came from except to avoid unintentional laughter over the double meaning of the original. Whatever keeps Mindy Cohn employed.

  24. MatthewA

    But then she would have been competing with Carol Burnett and the show would inevitably have been compared to hers.

    And then there was the whole issue of the coveted Saturday Morning Cartoon spin-off*. The Brady Kids settled for Filmation while the Partridge Family got a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that (apparently) was supposed to have been a Jetsons reboot but instead put them in outer space! Funny how two of the flagship H-B properties — that and The Flintstones** — can't get rebooted successfully now anymore, even though we still see multiple iterations of Scooby-Doo***, but The Banana Splits can. I don't even remember it being rerun much on cable before the rise of Cartoon Network, and I even watched Pixie and Dixie when USA had them!

    *Imagine today's live-action shows getting animated with what animation can do today. Imagine Mad Men reborn as an H-B-style cartoon or a throwback to 1960's Disney, or Breaking Bad in anime.
    **Despite now being owned by Warner Bros., the presence of Elizabeth Montgomery and Ann-Margrock, err Margaret, in guest appearances gives away the Screen Gems connection.
    ***Which is a misquote of that Frank SInatra song "Strangers in the Night" which he ended with "dooby-dooby-doo." I don't know where the "Scooby" came from except to avoid unintentional laughter over the double meaning of the original. Whatever keeps Mindy Cohn employed.

    If I remember correctly, Joe Barbera said it came from the song "Every Day People."

    Everyday People
    Sly and the Family Stone

    Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
    My own beliefs are in my song
    The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
    Makes no difference what group I'm in
    I am everyday people, yeah yeah
    There is a blue one who can't accept the green one
    For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one
    And different strokes for different folks
    And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo
    Oh sha sha we got to live together
    I am no better and neither are you
    We are the same whatever we do
    You love me you hate me you know me and then
    You can't figure out the bag I'm in
    I am everyday people, yeah yeah
    There is a long hair that doesn't like the short hair
    For bein' such a rich one that will not help the poor one
    And different…

  25. The song was released as a single in November 1968, but since it takes about nine months to a year from production to completion for an animated series (or at least it did back then), Scooby-Doo had likely already been greenlit for the 1969 CBS fall schedule and had started production. Joe Ruby and Ken Spears themselves said it was Sinatra's song they based it on yet never mentioned this other one.

    Though Sly and the Family Stone might be able to take credit for inspiring the title of another show about 10 years later. I'll let you guess which one.

  26. MatthewA

    The song was released as a single in November 1968, but since it takes about nine months to a year from production to completion for an animated series (or at least it did back then), Scooby-Doo had likely already been greenlit for the 1969 CBS fall schedule and had started production. Joe Ruby and Ken Spears themselves said it was Sinatra's song they based it on yet never mentioned this other one.

    Though Sly and the Family Stone might be able to take credit for inspiring the title of another show about 10 years later. I'll let you guess which one.

    That would be the Bain of my existence 😉 …

  27. Except two of the stars had a relationship that was more than Plato-nic! 😀

    But as for this, I still must ask, what were they thinking? Did they really believe the only way they could reboot it was to turn it into a horror film, and not even a very good one at that? This has cash-in written all over it. This is the sort of thing that makes people sick of reboots altogether. The original couldn't possibly have been worse.

  28. MatthewA

    Except two of the stars had a relationship that was more than Plato-nic! 😀

    But as for this, I still must ask, what were they thinking? Did they really believe the only way they could reboot it was to turn it into a horror film, and not even a very good one at that? This has cash-in written all over it. This is the sort of thing that makes people sick of reboots altogether. The original couldn't possibly have been worse.

    I guess you can take that to the cleaners … Whatcha talkin' bout Wills 😉

  29. That video store is probably long gone — who knows what replaced it — and thus they won't be carrying this movie. If physical media and physical rental stores are in decline, then it's likely because they have to sell movies like this with a straight face.

  30. MatthewA

    That video store is probably long gone — who knows what replaced it — and thus they won't be carrying this movie. If physical media and physical rental stores are in decline, then it's likely because they have to sell movies like this with a straight face.

    The DVD was slashed to $9.99 on sale at Target … (I don't think they ever had the blu-ray at my Target) …

  31. For that kind of money, it still feels like a rip off. I can’t imagine anyone anywhere who wanted to see this show rebooted wanted to see it take this form. To whom was this a good idea? I’m almost tempted to suggest this is a front for some kind of illegal activity.

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