Review: ‘Banana Split’ is the sweet treat we all need right now.

SYNOPSIS: April (Hannah Marks) has spent the last two years of high school in a relationship with Nick (Dylan Sprouse), from first frantic make-out session to final tear-stained breakup. In the aimless summer between graduation and college, the newly single April mends her heartbreak by striking up an unexpected friendship with an unlikely candidate: Nick’s new girlfriend, Clara (Liana Liberato).

Writers Hannah Marks and Joey Power have treated us to a genuine and hilarious look at female relationships. Minus the obvious current technology, this is a story that easily spans any generational gap. The dialogue is quippy and whip-smart. Somewhere between Dawson’s Creek and any John Hughes film. (Clearly, I’m dating myself here.) It’s laugh out loud funny the entire time. It reminded me of last year’s Booksmart. Same intoxicating energy.

Dylan Sprouse is back, ladies and gentlemen. This role allows him to prove that he (and not just his brother Cole) is the teen heartthrob of the moment. His innate ability to both seduce you and put you at ease with his nonchalance is the stuff of gold. Luke Spencer Roberts as Ben is awesome. You might think he’s going to be the sidekick but he is the sanity seeker with a wicked sense of comic timing. More of him everywhere, please.

Liana Liberato as Clara is every cool, confident girl we wanted to be in high school, but really nice. Her free-spiritedness is an awesome foil for April’s darker, sardonic tendencies. But she is equally as sharp. Hannah Marks, as April, is the quirky, indie girl we also wanted to be or actually were but didn’t know it until now. Bravo for her ability to successfully tackle the trifecta of executive producer, star, and writer. I cannot wait to see what she does next.

The chemistry between Liberato and Marks is magic. It’s that feeling we all have with our best friend; that rapid-fire back and forth that is way funnier when brimming with inside jokes. The most interesting part of this script is watching the pure development of a female relationship that mirrors the ups and downs of a romantic one. The soundtrack is fantastic, mixed with some fun countdown animation, Banana Split is hands down one of the best comedies of 2020.

 

Vertical Entertainment will release the comedy, BANANA SPLIT in Theaters, On Digital and On-Demand on March 27, 2020.

  BANANA SPLIT stars Hannah Marks (After Everything, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”), Liana Liberato (If I Stay, “Light As A Feather”), Dylan Sprouse (“The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” Big Daddy) and Addison Riecke (Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans,” The Beguiled). The film marks the feature directorial debut of indie cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke (Safety Not Guaranteed, Laggies.) Marks co-wrote the film alongside Joey Power (After Everything) who were both executive producers on the film as well.

SXSW 2020 review: ‘I Used To Go Here’ is an emotional second chance.

I Used To Go Here

Synopsis:

Following the launch of her new novel, 35-year-old writer Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs) is invited to speak at her alma mater by her mentor and former professor (Jemaine Clement). After accepting the invitation, Kate finds herself deeply enmeshed in the lives of an eccentric group of college students.

Gillian Jacobs is charming as ever as a woman whose life isn’t quite stacking up with the fiction she has spun. She comes face to face, literally, with everything from her college experience; her house, her coursework, her professor, and fellow students. After a reading from her debut novel, she is confronted by her own shortcomings as she becomes entangled in the drama of current students. The script allows her to let her guard down and accept the dark. Failure allows her to grow.

While certain plot points feel like a cliche rom-com, there is nothing wrong with that. I Used To Go Here is a comfort film for people who feel stalled. Finger wagging Gen Xer’s (like myself) will instantly connect with Jacobs. Ironically longing to be in her shoes for a few days. It will remind us all of the hope and fearlessness of our youth. It’s a motivating, genuinely funny look as adulthood. Besides Jacobs continuing to be a lovely and heartfelt actor, her castmates also offer a plethora of laughs and light. Jemaine Clement is always hilarious and this is no exception. Sometimes, the more sincere he tries to be the funnier I fond him. This is a total compliment. I find him easy to watch and connect with.

Josh Wiggins as Hugo is a breath of fresh air. His nonchalance and enthusiasm are a joy to watch. Hannah Marks is everything we need her to be; ambitious, moody, and ultimately vulnerable. Brandon Daley is one of the most hilarious characters in this film as Tall Brandon. His confidence and comic timing are pure magic. Lastly, Zoe Chao plays Laura, Kate’s best friend that is living vicariously through sporadic phone calls. She is both a voice of reason and a reliable one-liner spouter. I’m going to need way more of her in the future, please and thank you.

While we’re not breaking any ground with I Used To Go Here, I still really loved it. I lived in it. Sometimes you just need a well written, well-acted film that universally gets you. Congratulations to writer/director Kris Rey and cast for leaving us with a feel-good gem.

I USED TO GO HERE— Directed and Written by Kris Rey

SXSW 2020 Official Selection – Narrative SpotlightWorld Premiere — Acquisition

Starring Gillian Jacobs, Jemaine Clement, Josh Wiggins, Hannah Marks, Zoe Chao, Jorma Taccone, Forrest Goodluck