Banana Split (2020)

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Cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke makes his directorial debut on this coming-of-age comedy from star/writer Hannah Marks.

April has had the time of her life with her boyfriend Nick. However, after two years of dating, the two decide to call it quits on the night of graduation. The reason seems to be perhaps they are going to school in two different states. However, while April is still grieving over Nick, things are about to go from zero to one hundred when she learns Nick has already found a new girlfriend. At a house party, April meets Clara, Nick’s new girlfriend. At first, April feels very awkward.

However, April and Clara soon learn they have much more in common than just Nick and the two decide to become friends. They make strict rules involving their new friendship. Nick’s friend Ben is shocked at the new bond between the two but respects them enough to keep it a secret. However, when Nick comes back into the picture as the end of summer nears, could April and Clara’s newfound bond be broken forever?

You have it hand to Hannah Marks, the star and co-writer of this film, which is about a high school romance gone bad and the very shocking “sister”-romance that soon forms between our protagonist April and her ex’s new girlfriend. What also helps is when you have a cinematographer also be the film’s director because while it’s double duty, with his lensing expertise, they know where to set up the shots just right, and in this case, it’s Benjamin Kasulke, who makes his directorial debut here.

The chemistry between Marks and co-star Liana Liberato is the driving force with this film. They go from awkward meeting to best friends forever as it seems like with the case of April, she has friends in Molly, played by Megan Elizabeth Smith; and Sally, played by Haley Ramm. However, they seem more of a temporary fix for April in terms of getting over her relationship with Nick, played by a welcoming Dylan Sprouse. Sprouse’s Nick is not exactly the type of character you may seem as some sort of playboy because in the third act, things get revealed when he comes back in the picture and it seems like he’s got a bit of his own problems.

Luke Spencer Roberts is great as Ben, Nick’s best friend who kind of acts as a glue between April and Clara. While Nick is the one thing they have in common in terms of relationships, Ben is the geeky best friend who learns of the newfound bond between April and Clara, but despite his own reservations, he does accept it and is willingly ready to help these two stay friends. Some hilarious scenes also involve April’s family with Friends’ Jessica Hecht as her overbearing and somewhat overprotective mother while Addison Riecke is hilarious as her foul-mouthed little sister, who has delusions of grandeur when it comes to Nick, who she totally crushes on and lets April know all the time about it.

Banana Split is a great modern-day high school flick in the vein of meshing John Hughes with Cameron Crowe. It may be somewhat of an awkward “sis-mance” film between one’s ex and new girlfriend. However, Hannah Marks and Liana Liberato make it work and with great performances by Dylan Sprouse, Luke Spencer Roberts, and Addison Riecke, this is one film worth checking out.

WFG RATING: A

Vertical Entertainment presents an American High film in association with Burn Later Productions. Director: Benjamin Kasulke. Producers: Jeremy Garelick, Mickey Liddell, Will Phelps, Sam Slater, and Glen Trotiner. Writers: Hannah Marks and Joey Power. Cinematography: Darin Moran. Editing: Brendan Walsh.

Cast: Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato, Dylan Sprouse, Luke Spencer Roberts, Meagan Elizabeth Smith, Haley Ramm, Addison Riecke, Jessica Hecht, Jacob Batalon.

Vertical Entertainment is releasing this film in select theaters, On Digital, and On Demand on March 27.

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