Review: Sweet teenage comedy 'Banana Split' hits the right notes

March 26, 2020

Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment 

There’s a lover's quarrel taking place in Benjamin Kasulke’s endearing romantic teen-comedy “Banana Split,” but not similar to the ones you’d see in a John Hughes flick. The spat revolves around the young and energetic April (co-writer Hannah Mark - earning her stripes and delivering huge laughs) - a recent high school graduate headed to school in Boston - and the flamboyant Clara (Liana Liberator - a welcome addition despite her similarities to Debbie Ryan). 

 

You see, back in the day - or for two years of her high school career - April dated Nick (Dylan Sprouse sporting a thick mane of hair) and when the two weren’t making out rigorously in public spaces, they were having sex on the beach while calling each other pet names. Mark’s script moves at almost a breakneck pace (83 minutes to be exact) and the first ten minutes sets up her and Nick’s relationship before an eventual falling out. Enter Clara: Fresno, California’s finest, the type of Instagram filter junkie who relies on public affirmation to feel successful who is now hooking up with Nick on the daily. 

 

By some fate at a nearby house party (do high schoolers, in the digital age, still throw ragers like this?) April and Clara run into each other and instead of wanting to pull the other’s hair out, they bond over Nick and develop a kindred friendship with some ground rules. Rule number one, being, to not talk about Nick. They become inseparable and the charming chemistry that radiates from Liberator and Mark feel like a throwback to a younger Amy Pohler and Tina Fey and it gives the cliched elements of “Banana Split” something to latch onto. 

 

Eventually - and quite predictably - feelings and emotions come to fruition, meanwhile Nick sits in the wings waiting for an olive branch. But “Split” doesn’t thrive on those high-school melodramatic plot devices, rather in those somber and honest moments among Clara and April, specifically the life talks about swapping virginities and the awkward dinner conversations in front of one’s mother, that give the film some flavor. 

 

All in all, it makes for a relatable hour and a half, which with some zany one liners, a hip indie soundtrack, and hilarious side characters thrown in, helps this otherwise standard comedy, become a charming and wholesome experience. 

 

Grade: B

 

Banana Split will be available to rent and stream from various on-demand video services starting Friday March 27th.

 

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