Bananas (1971)

  • TCM says in its intro to this film that it is “truly a laugh-out-loud comedy.” I don’t, even once in my life, recall laughing out loud at a Woody Allen movie, so…we’ll see how this goes.
  • The movie starts with the president of San Marcos (a fictional country) being assassinated. News reporters are light-heartedly commentating on it as it’s happening, and I suppose the idea is funny – but in practice, it’s not at all.
  • The credits that follow this opening scene are backed by a song being sung in Spanish which is continuously interrupted by gunshot sound effects & illustrated bullet holes. This is also not very funny – more a mix of jarring & disturbing. So far, my latest attempt at enjoying the celebrated film career of Mr. Allen is not looking that promising.
  • The soundtrack to this sounds like it’s straight out of a silent movie.
  • So far (15 minutes in), it’s also very episodic. Like…lots of short scenes that go for one or two gags that aren’t linked to any other previous jokes…then it’s on to the next one. This is very ‘Early Silent Comedy’ of Allen, which I appreciate – but also do not see the purpose of, in this context.
  • Y’all…I’m already ready for this to be over. People laugh at this stuff? How? Why? I’m not one of the cool kids, I guess. I just don’t get it.
  • Included in the episodic scenes that are terribly unfunny:

– Allen makes small talk with Nancy (Louise Lasser), a girl that knocks on his door wanting him to sign a petition. They talk about yoga, Denmark, & castration.

– Allen sits idly by while Sylvester Stallone & another thug assault an old woman on the subway.

– Allen visits his surgeon parents in their operating room – while they are performing surgery – to tell them he’s leaving for San Marcos…to which his father responds by suggesting Allen take over doing the surgery, because it’s not that hard.

  • Why does the president of San Marcos think Fielding (Mellish, the character played by Allen) is an important intellectual & want to have him over for dinner? (This is left unexplained.)
  • During the dinner at the president’s house, Allen eats his wine glass. Also, an orchestra is shown on the second floor balcony not playing instruments (as in – they look like they are playing instruments, but there is no sound, and instead of holding instruments, they are just holding air).

???

  • So now the rebels of San Marcos have kidnapped Allen to prevent the president from murdering him & framing them for the murder. *Cue an unfunny 10-minute montage of Allen unsuccessfully training for guerrilla warfare.*
  • Counting down the minutes ’til this movie is done. (Please tell me this is the last Woody Allen movie on AFI’s list of Top 100 Comedies. I know ANNIE HALL (1977) & SLEEPER (1973) are on there. Oh, and MANHATTAN (1979). Surely this is the last one.)
  • Okay! Okay! Y’all! A funny thing happened in this movie, with 10 minutes to spare! Earlier, Nancy breaks up with Fielding because “there’s something missing,” but she can’t articulate what it is exactly, and there’s this whole (unfunny) (of course) scene that happens as a result, because Fielding wants to know what’s causing the break up. So – fast forward to now, and Nancy has approached the newly selected, fake-bearded president of San Marcos (who is actually Fielding), raving about his career & how amazing he is & asking if she can kiss him. They end up in bed together & she describes it as a “religious experience,” at which point Fielding reveals his identity & Nancy goes, “I knew there was something missing!” And then the scene ends. Ha! At long last – a funny!
  • The courtroom scene towards the end has some semi-funny parts, too. Like the lady being sworn in as a witness (?) who introduces herself as “J. Edgar Hoover,” claims her profession to be “the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” and explains it all away by saying he/she rarely goes out in public without a disguise. Admittedly, that was a pretty great sequence.
  • The movie ends very similarly to how it begins: very awkwardly & very unfunnily. Instead of commentating on a man being assassinated, those same dumbass news reporters are have moved on to commentating on Fielding & Nancy’s wedding night.

Woo. So funny!*

*Just kidding. No, it’s not.

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