Banana Split

Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Banana Split Movie Poster Image
Raunchy comedy has strong messages about female friendship.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 88 minutes

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the irresponsible behavior -- partying, teen drug use, etc. -- are well-intentioned messages about everything from nonjudgmental portrayals of genders and races to what it means to be a good friend. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

April and Clara are smart, thoughtful, relatable, though their frankness about sex and their drinking/drug use may make them iffy role models in parents' eyes. Nick, a less developed character, generally treats his friends, girlfriends with kindness and respect. Ben, a mostly overlooked character, does have a great moment when he implies that April is self-centered and never bothered to get to know him. April's dirty-mouthed tween sister Agnes is difficult to like and says cringey things; April's mother, Susan, is framed as a mom who's caring yet overshares embarrassingly (and unrealistically).

Violence

During an argument, Clara throws a drink at April. 

Sex

Sexual content is mature and frequent. Teens (portrayed by actors in their 20s) kiss passionately, talk about "hooking up." They have sex with moans, thrusts, but no nudity; bodies are hidden beneath clothes, sheets. Sexual talk is frequent: mentions of masturbation, "scissoring," oral sex (in vulgar terms). A character talks repeatedly about a man being inside a woman, once making a reference to "balls deep." Men are seen nude from front with their hands over genitalia in scene Clara describes, in graphic terms, as some of the men she's had sex with. Plot deals extensively with romance, romantic complications. Teen girls are confident, secure about their sexuality and what they want. One girl is called a "slut," is insulted for having sex with a number of people; movie implies these insults are inappropriate. 

Language

Extremely strong language includes "f--k," "f--king," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "bitches." Expect vulgarity whenever April's sister Agnes appears; the sisters often throw insults at each other (e.g., "eat a d--k" or "kiss my fat ass"). A teen girl is called a "slut" (by a negatively portrayed character). Two characters tease a red-headed boy, calling him a "ginger f--k." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens smoke pot, drink heavily; several scenes show them doing shots and then acting recklessly -- and, in one scene, throwing up in a toilet. They share vape pens, joints, marijuana-laced cookies, bongs. An extended scene shows two characters taking LSD together, seeing colorful visions. A character talks about seeing odd things when she was "on whippets." Characters make a point of not driving after using substances.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Banana Split is a smart, funny, realistic -- but very raunchy -- comedy about two teen girls (Hannah Marks) and Liana Liberato) who become friends even though one is dating the other's ex-boyfriend. Teen characters drink heavily at parties (sometimes doing shots) and then act sloppy and reckless. In one scene, a teen character throws up in a toilet. Teens also share vape pens, joints, pot-laced cookies, and bongs. Two characters buy LSD and have an uneventful (if colorful) night. At least characters do make a point of not driving after partying. Sexual content is also frequent and mature, with passionate kissing, sex under blankets (no nudity), and lots of explicit talk, including graphic terms for intercourse, masturbation, oral sex, and same-sex coupling. A tween character makes many sexual comments. Men are seen nude from the front, with just their hands covering their genitals. Teen girls are confident about their sexuality and what they want. Language is extremely strong, including "f--k," "f--king," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "bitches" and lots of terms for body parts: "d--k," "t-tties," etc. A girl is called a "slut." Despite all the iffy behavior, messages about friendship, kindness, fairness, and thoughtfulness shine through, with characters who make mistakes yet find a way to put things right in the end. 

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Teen, 14 years old Written byz13 August 2, 2020

It's an okay movie, good for teens

It's not the best movie but it can be funny, it's more of a movie to watch if your bored but don't really want to focus that much. This movie has... Continue reading

What's the story?

It doesn't exactly make sense for BANANA SPLIT's April (Hannah Marks) and Clara (Liana Liberato) to be friends. After all, Clara is dating April's ex, Nick (Dylan Sprouse), for whom April still has very complicated feelings. But when April and Clara meet up at a party, they find out that they actually really like each other -- maybe even more than they like Nick. But to keep complications to a minimum, they decide they should keep their hangouts secret. As the moments until Nick and April leave for college tick by, the risk of being found out grows. Will jealousy and uncertainty destroy what's rapidly becoming a beautiful friendship? 

Is it any good?

Raunchy yet beautifully real and funny, this scrappy indie movie says something about female friendships that those on the inside already know: They can be every bit as heady as falling in love. The basic plot description makes Banana Split sound like it must be another tedious movie in which women clash over a man -- but, refreshingly, Nick is a bit of a cipher instead of a center point. He shows up briefly to cause complications at parties, to serve as an object for both Clara and April to long for, and once, hilariously, to hump April underneath a blanket on the beach. It's not that Sprouse (yes, the twin brother of that guy from Riverdale, both formerly of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) isn't good. He is -- he's as magnetic as his brother, and his sweet scenes with both April and Clara ring true. It's more that the focus isn't on him: It's on the two women in his life and the friendship palace they're building together. 

Make no mistake: Marks and Liberato have the best chemistry in the movie, and Banana Split frames their growing friendship as an overwhelming romance. In one scene, Clara shows up at the movie theater April works for to pick her up for an evening out, and the two impulsively drive to Palm Springs, get a hotel room, and buy LSD from the hotel's maintenance man. After a long night of swirling colors, they wind up in bed together, with Clara tracing the blue veins in April's arms. There's tension in the air: Are they about to kiss? No. The scene peaks as each looks deeply into each other's eyes to confess "You're my best friend," a declaration of love more profound and touching than 99.99% of movie sex scenes. Banana Split isn't flawless -- at 27, 26, and 24, respectively, Sprouse, Marks, and Liberato all look too old to be teens. And April's profane and precocious tween sister, Agnes (Addison Riecke), is terribly grating. But as a portrait of the transcendent joy of finding a new friend you love who loves you right back, it's absolutely aces. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Banana Split depicts teen drinking, smoking, and drug use. Are they glamorized? Do the characters need to do these things to look cool? What are the consequences?

  • How is sex depicted? Do you think the graphic sex talk is meant to be realistic or shocking? What's the difference? What values are imparted?

  • The movie seems to be saying that a little fun mixed with responsibility is OK. Do you agree? What are the arguments for or against that perspective? Are April and Clara role models? Why or why not?

  • Are the adults in the movie realistic? Are they silly or ridiculous? How do they relate to teens? Do they listen?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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