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“BANANA SPLIT” Delightfully Twisted






Review by John Delia

It’s complicated, but that’s a good thing for the film Banana Split a comedy with a romantic twist. Nicely acted, directed and with high marks for production, the film takes you on a journey of heartbreak and heartthrob. It’s your turn to cheer for the opposing team, but only if you see yourself in the roles of these coming of age teens.

It’s been an awesome senior year for April (Hanna Marks) meeting and hooking up with Nick (Dylan Sprouse). The two took to each other early on and have been pushing each other’s buttons for fun, frolicking and yep, a LOT of that too. However, looking like they are set to be partners for life, the door slams shut when they get accepted to different colleges 3 thousand miles from each other. It’s a downer and a deal breaker as the two part ways. But, there’s still summer and April is now single and ready for anything, or so she thinks.

Hannah Marks as April in the comedy, “BANANA SPLIT,” a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

For two weeks April’s been depressed showing a bit of disdain at the dinner table and her job at the movie theater. That is until her weed wacked best friends, Molly (Meagan Kimberly Smith) and Sally (Haley Ramm), talk her into going to a super rad house party where anything goes. Totally smashed she spots Clara (Liana Liberato), Nicks new squeeze, and the party atmosphere starts a downward spiral for April. The bad thing here, Clara is drop dead gorgeous and becoming a very popular teen since moving to the area. At a quirky moment where April has sequestered herself in one of the bedrooms, Clara enters and introduces herself. After a few drinks and some wild dances together, attitudes between them start to change.

(L-R) Hannah Marks as April and Liana Liberato as Clara in the comedy, “BANANA SPLIT,” a Vertical Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

Director Benjamin Kasulke takes it from there as he breaks all the rules of relationships and puts the two 18-year-olds on a trajectory for new beginnings. Along the way we see the oddest relationship bloom and it’s a crazy summer of BFF heading for a finale that you probably hoped for. I like the way Kasulke brings it all together modeling the girls much like what today’s teens, even though it’s over the top. Somewhere in America it’s probably on the money. And his production value including cinematography, sets and locations is very good considering he’s on an indie budget. Loaded with fresh faces, his casting is perfect with actors that are ready for the big time. He delivers a wild and wacky story, so be prepared for a lot of fun.

The whole cast is extremely good stepping up with realistic performances of the 21st century adolescent’s freewheeling society. But first Agnes (Addison Riecke), April’s 13-year-old hormone rabid sister who’s a stitch. She’s the advice giver to April and her single mom (Jessica Hecht) blatantly holding nothing back about suggestions for their sex life. It’s her first big screen outing since TV’s “A Girl Named Jo”. Keep stepping up girl, there should be more theatrical acting opportunities coming after this fine outing.

Addison Riecke as Agnes in the comedy, “BANANA SPLIT,” a Vertical Entertainment
release. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

But the charm and depiction of the youthful coming of age story would not have been genuine in Banana Split without winning performances by Hannah Marks and Liana Liberato. As April and Clara, two butterflies who have just left their cocoons, they’re splendid and fanatical showing the best summer of their character’s lives. Before her breakup, Marks really knows how to show April’s sexually active side as she turns Nick into a play toy whether in the bedroom or even on the beach. When Clara’s comes on the scene she’s already ahead of April in that game, but she’s still the catalyst for the new relationship and helps her new found friend forget the past.

Banana Split has been rated R by the MPAA for crude sexual content, language throughout, drugs and alcohol use (all involving teens). The film was made in 2018 and ran the film festival circuit before finally being released on Digital HD and Video on Demand from most all cable outlets this Friday.

FINAL ANALYSIS: One of the better teen coming of age films in a while. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato, Dylan Sprouse, Luke Spencer Roberts, Meagan Kimperly smith, Haley Ramm, Jessica Hecht, Addison Riecke, Jacob Batalon,
Directed and written by: Benjamin Kasulke
Genre: Comedy, Romance
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug and alcohol use (all involving teens)
Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min
Opening Date: March 27, 2020
Distributed by: Vertical Entertainment
Released in: Digital, VOD

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