The Banana Splits Movie (2019)

directed by danishka esterhazy
blue ribbon content/blue ice pictures

You know, I gave up drugs about nine years ago, and watching this insane production, I realize I either never needed them or they caused permanent brain damage. Holy cats. Based in some sort of madcap reality where The Banana Splits are still a popular and ongoing concern, this flick – which was for some reason filmed entirely in South Africa, even though the cast and crew are dominated by Canadians, and “Blue Ribbon Content” is a TV production subsidiary of Warner Bros. – conjures a pernicious mashup of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Meet the Feebles. Obviously, with that setup, this is ostensibly a horror comedy, but I am not even kidding you, it’s a whole lot creepier than you’d think. Part of that is due to the cinéma vérité effect provided by the production values, but its humor is all pretty black, if not bleak, anyway. Tremendous. Stupendous! A mess of fun, indeed.

why did i watch this movie?

Periodically, I contemplate acquiring the music from the original television series (you’ll recall I mentioned brain damage), and the most recent time, the welter of information accompanying my “research” mentioned the existence of this film. Fait accompli.

should you watch this movie?

I’m trying to determine this picture’s probable impact on those with no personal relationship with/foreknowledge of the nostalgia-tinged frippery upon which it is based, but ultimately I don’t think lacking the background should matter that much.

highlight and low point

The fact that almost none of the characters involved actually like The Banana Splits is both jocose and, in my opinion, keenly observant. After hinting that the action might stay somewhat tame, it proceeds to tear limb from limb – literally, in some cases.

rating from outer space: A−

IT (2017)

directed by andy muschietti
new line cinema

I … have read over 60 Stephen King books – which is to say, most of them. IT is one of my favorites, so I am perhaps biased in my abjuration of this werewolf picture. But what makes the book work is the relationships of the “Losers’ Club” kids – with each other, and with the adult world – and we get almost no sense of that in this retelling. Instead, we’ve got a bunch of kids who decide to hang out together for some reason and, moreover, to confront the hideous monster killing children in their town. Their enemies, meanwhile, are even less well-drawn, so further impetus for much of the action is lost. The climactic scenes inside the monster’s lair are well-envisioned, and a few of the individual vignettes are effective. But the best scene was spoiled by being included in the trailer, and I feel like a sucker for having bought into it. I’m still gonna see Part II, of course.

why did i watch this movie?

The trailer made it look as though someone finally had figured out how to film an S. King adaptation effectively – especially the concept of splitting it into two halves.

should you watch this movie?

‘Twas a runaway smash hit, and continues to receive overwhelmingly positive word-of-mouth, so what do I know.

highlight and low point

The foreign screener I watched rendered the title, literally, as “The.” Besides that, the film did a good job of ratcheting up the tension until the Losers’ decision to enter the sewers in search of their evil quarry. Again, however, the depictions of the kids had little depth, and a few of the alterations and additions to their exploits and backstories were peculiar, to say the least.

rating from outer space: C