Friday, May 24, 2019

Banana Split - SIFF 2019 Movie Review

The Movie: Banana Split

The Director: Benjamin Kasulke

The Cast: Hannah Marks, Dylan Sprouse, Liana Liberato, Luke Spencer Roberts, Haley Ramm

The Story: Over the course of a summer, two teenage girls develop the perfect kindred spirit friendship, with one big problem: one of them is dating the other's ex.

The Review:
Holy crap, I loved this movie! If there was an award for cutest movie of the year, this would most likely be my choice. Over the years, we've had movies like SuperbadSixteen CandlesAmerican Pie, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High to give us a taste of that awkwardly exciting time in our lives that we will always remember but never want to relive although from a very testosterone filled pint of view. Director Benjamin Kasulke, along with writers Hannah Marks and Joey Power, have created a completely original and fresh take on the teen coming of age high school movie by giving it a decidedly female perspective.

Speaking of Hannah Marks, she is absolutely fantastic in her role as the socially awkward yet completely relatable April and even better when paired up with her co-star Liana Liberato who, as Clara, is a totally fresh take on what is typically the classic blonde "babe" that inhabits the genre. There is so much authenticity in their performances and, just as quickly as they become friends, they force you into liking them just as much as they like each other. The way their friendship is created and how it plays out is a perfect example of how, at that age, teenagers really have no idea what they're doing and are constantly learning through the results of bad decisions.

On the other side of the gender equation, fans will recognize April's boyfriend Nick being played by Dylan Sprouse who was immortalized into Disney fandom for his role as Zack Martin in various shows and videos over the years. Jacob Batalon, who we all know and love as Spider-Man's best friend in those Marvel movies you may or may not have heard of, pops in and out of the story as April's movie theater manager. Rounding out the talented roster of youngsters is Luke Spencer Roberts who is perfectly cast as the nerdy friend to all who is also probably the most level headed of the bunch.

The main thing that really sticks out about this movie to me is how modern and relevant it is in so many ways. A the movie unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent that this story, which I'm assuming is drawn from real life experiences, holds a special place in the hearts of the writing team and all of that love carries over to the entire production. The laughs are funny because they're made from real oments that we've all been through and the humor is often drawn from the relatability of awkward and embarrassing moments because that's basically all of high school, right?

The Verdict:
Banana Split is the high school movie we need right now. It is funny, it is smart, it is full of all the emotions and Hannah Marks is the new definition of our collective teenage experience. After years of master class caliber experiences working with a who's who of film makers as a cinematographer, Benjamin Kasulke has now established his own self as an up and coming director to watch for.

Want to know more about the film? Check out our interview with director Ben Kasulke!

Banana Split is an official selection of the 2019 Seattle International Film festival.

To see more reviews, interviews and festival coverage please go to:

TwoOhSix at SIFF 2019

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