Bananas Movie Poster

US Release Date: 04/28/1971

Credits

Directed by:Woody Allen

Starring:

Movie Review

Bananas

"Woody Allen goes Bananas!"
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Reviewed on: April 28th, 2001
Woody Allen and Louise Lasser in Bananas.

Woody Allen and Louise Lasser in Bananas.

Released in 1971 Bananas is Woody Allen's second movie as writer, director, star. In it he plays Fielding Mellish a neurotic New York underdog who inadvertently becomes involved in a central American revolution. Louise Lasser plays his spacey girlfriend Nancy. She is especially good in the scene in central park where she tells Woody's character that he is "Immature emotionally, sexually and intellectually". He replies "Yeah but in what other ways?"

This movie is much quirkier and visually abstract than most of his more recent films. The overhead shot of Woody on a cross amidst fighting monks comes to mind. Bananas also demonstrates what an inventive and nimble physical comic he is and is funny enough to overcome the fact that every character except Allen's and Lasser's is completely one dimensional.

Bananas is very evocative of the era. For instance the court room scene where Fielding spastically cross examines himself while the jury passes around a large joint screams early seventies. As does the black woman who testifies as J. Edgar Hoover in disguise.

From here the story moves to it's final scene which in my opinion is a comic masterpiece. Howard Cosell's play-by-play of Fielding and Nancy's wedding night. "Alright they're building to a climax. Yes, the action is really getting vigorous."

I recommend this poetic and humorous film to anyone who doesn't think Woody Allen is funny.

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Reviewed on: September 4th, 2005
Woody Allen and Louise Lasser in Bananas.

Woody Allen and Louise Lasser in Bananas.

If I made a list of adjectives that I would use to describe Bananas, poetic would not appear anywhere on the list. Humorous, however, would make it, but that's as far as I would go in describing how funny this movie is. It contains a few sparks of Allen's genius, but you can tell that his movie making style was still in development here.

Since so many of Allen's later works are non-stopping talking, it was surprising to me to see just how much he relied on physical humor in this movie. It's also surprising how many of these jokes fall flat. The best jokes, the ones that work, are those that carry Allen's trademark neurotic New York wit. His conversation with his therapist includes some Allen gems. "I once stole a pornographic book that was printed in Braille. I used to rub the dirty parts," and "I had a good relationship with my parents. I think they hit me only once, actually, in my whole childhood. They started beating me on the 23rd of December in 1942, and stopped beating me in the late spring of '44."

Far too much time though, is spent with Woody training to be a revolutionary. The slapstick antics, accompanied by a mind numbingly catchy soundtrack, featuring a kazoo of all things, should either have been edited way down or removed all together.

Bananas is an interesting look at a developing genius, but is hardly representative of Allen's best work.

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