Sure, there’s a guy at the center of the love triangle in “Banana Split,” but the relationship at the heart of this teen comedy is the “womance” between two unlikely female friends. Societal rules say that April (co-writer Hannah Marks) and Clara (Liana Liberato) should hate each other since April’s ex Nick (Dylan Sprouse) is currently dating Clara, but it’s sisters before misters, even as the young women hide their forbidden friendship from Nick.
Adults will feel roughly a thousand years old watching “Banana Split” — where are these kids’ parents?! — but it’s worth the laugh lines and the post-viewing spackling of anti-aging serum. Regardless of how far audience members are from their own post-high school, pre-college summer like these teens, there’s still truth and plenty of laughter here that feels specific to their experience yet universal to anyone who’s had a BFF.
In his directorial debut, Lynn Shelton cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke infuses what could have been an average-looking comedy with vibrant style, particularly in the girls’ multiple drug trips. “Banana Split” has a “Booksmart”-esque vibe at its neon-lit core, but this still feels like something new thanks to its witty, LOL-filled screenplay that captures all the weirdness and closeness of female friendships. The script from Marks and Joey Power offers sharply written characters who are so much more than the usual teen movie archetypes as well as dialogue that earns a shower of crying laughing emoji.
Rated: R, for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug and alcohol use — all involving teens.
Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes
Playing: Available March 27 on VOD