The Banana Splits is a kids' TV show that celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, and little Harley (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong) is its biggest fan, even though his contemporaries feel they are growing out of watching - Harley stays loyal, however. Today is his birthday, so naturally he is excited, and his mother Beth (Dani Kind) has a surprise planned for him in the shape of tickets to a recording. The rest of the family and the "friend" asked to accompany him are not so enthusiastic, so it is little wonder the series is under threat of cancellation, but the robots who play the Splits are about to undergo some reprogramming to ensure they are not about to be decommissioned just yet...
When the announcement of a horror movie based on cartoons 'n' slapstick Hanna Barbera show The Banana Splits was made, the reaction was, appropriately, split between those who were unhappy since this was one of those ultimate childhood despoiling ideas that we are always hearing about on the internet, and those who were pleased such an innocent and corny effort would be repurposed as a cheap and nasty shocker. You can imagine the thinking was that since people are supposedly afraid of clowns, then they would be disturbed by blank-expressioned costumes going about murderous mayhem in the same fashion. If you're not bothered by clowns, it was no big deal.
Less than that, in fact, since the script did the barest minimum to enliven even its dubious premise, basically Westworld (whose television remake had gone the other direction into extreme pretentiousness) with a collection of inconsistently behaving animal cartoons-as-real life characters. If you really had to make this, there were far better ways of going about it, for a start they could have created something as wacky and colourful as its inspiration and gone to town in dialling up the bad taste quotient. More imaginatively, they could have gone the route of something like bizarre kids TV spoof Wonder Showzen, whose beady-eyed intensity in its craziness would have been ideal here.
But nope, there was no imagination here, indeed the project was more interested in tiresomely bringing real world problems to the fore, with adultery, loneliness, struggling with bringing up children and other subjects guaranteed to bring down the mood of even the goriest of chillers. Once you had sat through explanations of why the central family was dysfunctional, we were introduced to various potential victims, with such snark-magnets as entitled vloggers who want to be rich and famous and, er, entitled fathers who want their kids to be rich and famous - basically anyone wanting to enter showbusiness was fair game for getting their brains bashed in with an outsize mallet in what amounted to a telling off from those already in the industry to whoever had aspirations to join (or replace) them.
We also had the cautionary Stevie (Richard White), a new to the concept addition to the Splits who does not wear an animal costume but acts the fool merely so we could be warned that if you wanted to be a celebrity, don't bother as you would end up as a broken alcoholic at best, a murder victim at worst. There was no sign of the Splits' actual nemeses The Sour Grapes Bunch, a team of prancing little girls who struck terror into their hearts (though they do get a mention in the dialogue), but you can imagine they had script approval in this excoriation of children's entertainment aimed at flint-hearted cynics who could not stand to see anyone enjoying themselves. The Krofft Brothers costumes had undergone slight adaptations to make them more sinister, but anyone who was unnerved as a youngling by output like their H.R. Pufnstuf was not going to need that prompting. Besides, The Banana Splits was so silly it had an innocence this mediocrity was determined to ruin out of sheer spite or utter disinterest, which may be worse. All that and no cartoon or Danger Island interludes, and the only bubblegum pop you hear is the Tra-la-la theme song (repeated ad nauseam).