The high school comedy can be a great experience if well executed. There are plenty of great examples, but there are also plenty of bad ones. Banana Split (2018) is written by Joey Power and Hannah Marks – who also stars in the film – and directed by Benjamin Kasulke. As far as high school comedies are concerned, this is an example of a good one. It is unique in its premise and its opening, and the laughs come consistently throughout the film because we feel invested in the characters. Sadly, it’s a film many will not hear about…so help spread some love for this indie comedic gem!
The movie begins with a crazy long montage of sorts, introducing the audience to April (Hannah Marks) and the entirety of her relationship with Nick (Dylan Sprouse). They break up at graduation after two years of being together which, of course, leaves April devastated. It’s not too far into the summer break that April learns about Nick’s new girlfriend, Clara (Liana Liberato). April’s friend encourages her to go to a party where she inevitably meets Clara, and surprisingly, the two hit it off. The movie goes on to show these kindred spirits bonding and becoming besties while hiding this from Nick.
There is so much chemistry between Marks and Liberato that it is impossible to question how they could become so close despite their shared love of Nick. It’s actually one of the most refreshing aspects of this story. They do spend a few scenes just talking about Nick, but there are so many other ones where they are talking about themselves and their goals. While the central conflict is ultimately about the relationship with Nick, the core of the film is founded in the plutonic love that April and Clara find for each other. It’s heartfelt and endearing, and an endless source for comedy.
However, to be fair – some of the funniest moments come as a result of Ben (Luke Spencer Roberts). Ben is Nick’s best friend and cousin to Clara, and he finds himself to be a perpetual third wheel in all of the relationships involved. Ben is funny in his own right, but he often finds himself the target of the jokes thrown by April and Clara – and they are just delightful. The best moments in the film come at April’s family’s dinner table. Her little sister Agnes (Addison Riecke) and her mother Susan (Jessica Hecht) – yes she did play Susan on Friends, and yes that makes it all the better – have so much humor at every instance that it would be possible to cut a highlight reel of just these scenes to sell the movie. Hecht and Riecke are so great, and the way the motherly role is utilized when dishing out discipline is even funnier.
Banana Split is available on VOD starting on March 27th. It is certainly a film that will help alleviate some of the tension you may be experiencing as a result of COVID-19. It’s short and sweet, yet full of delicious comedy. Banana Split earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.