With costumes and sets by Sid and Marty Krofft, Hanna-Barbera’s “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour” aired during a period (1968-70) when children’s television embraced the aesthetics of a psychedelic drug trip. The experience of watching “The Banana Splits Movie” is like taking a different drug: Valium.
More of a raspberry than a reboot, “The Banana Splits Movie,” available to buy (and later to rent) on multiple digital platforms, is far less crazy than it wants to be and far more soporific than a synopsis would suggest. The premise is that the Banana Splits’ program is being canceled. The new honcho at the network thinks that the Splits — the fun-loving fur balls Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky — aren’t edgy enough for his new vision. Unfortunately, the Splits in this movie are also murderous robots, as implacable as their tra-la-la theme song.
So we are treated to the sights of Drooper the lion jamming a lollipop down a human co-star’s neck and a member of the audience being sawed in half by Fleegle the magician beagle. With such gags, the movie indicates its core audience, which seems rather niche: Its humor is aimed squarely at splatter fans fluent in — or at least inherently amused by — the details of a half-century-old show for kindergartners.
The director Danishka Esterhazy deserves some credit for flambéing a beloved property, albeit one for which nostalgia may skew along generational lines. Imagine a gore-filled reworking of a more enduring Hanna-Barbera title, “The Jetsons,” in which the robot Rosie slashes George and Jane to ribbons. Then try to imagine who would watch it.
The Banana Splits Movie
Rated R. A sundae of blood and guts. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes.