For Reel

Bananas (1971)
October 10, 2016, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Woody Allen
3 Stars
bananasThat Bananas is one of the films that Woody Allen later teased as being one of his, “earlier, funny ones,” doesn’t so much suggest that he regressed as a filmmaker from this point, but that it represents Allen’s purest ambitions as a young artist. Whereas Allen’s philosophical interests would contend with the humor of his later pictures, Bananas is the work of a young comedian who seems in a hurry to throw everything he can at the screen—as a collection of sketches, it barely coheres itself together, instead favoring a madcap pacing that is rendered all the more nutty by Marvin Hamlisch’s score. If Allen was rarely better as a physical comedian, however, Bananas still shows his weaknesses. In the New York subway scene (with a cameo by a young Sylvester Stallone), Allen’s apparent Little Tramp impression feels mechanical and forced. As Allen allowed himself to be more outwardly sad as a performer (beyond the cutesy self-deprecation of his earliest films), he began to register sympathetically enough to get away with this sort of thing. Bananas is frequently brilliant if only for the scenarios it dreams up, but its quality is too inconsistent to rank it alongside Allen’s best.

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