I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I first watched Lemonade Mouth. The name was a little different, which interested me. The other things that intrigued me were the movie’s messages. I could tell from the advertisements and previews that this wouldn’t be some movie focused on that sweet, teenage love that either makes you want to vomit or warms your heart, depending on who you are and how it is portrayed in the film. Instead the movie focused on uplifting messages of individuality, expression, friendship, perseverance, and standing up for what’s right.
All of the characters, in some way or another, have identity issues. Stella, the new girl in town, is a misfit in her genius family. Mo comes from a very traditional Indian family. She tells them that she is doing extra credit when she spends time with her boyfriend and attends band practice. Charlie lives in the shadow of his older brother. Wen’s mother left him and his father who now has a beautiful, young girlfriend. Lastly, Olivia lives with her loving grandmother because her mother died and her father is in prison. He writes to her, but she can’t ever think of what to write back to him. Through the events that follow the formation of the band, they all are able to work through their problems and figure out who they are as individuals. I found this message to be very empowering.
The five teens are polar opposites, and yet they become wonderful friends. They fight a lot, to the point where I honestly wasn’t sure if they were going to end up together at the end of the movie. However, when push comes to shove, the friends are very loyal to each other. My favorite example of this is when Ray (the main antagonist of the film) begins to pester Olivia, the others get involved. Stella spits a mouthful of Mel’s Organic Lemonade in Ray’s face. This results in the band receiving their name.
Lemonade Mouth goes through so much, yet they never stop chasing after what they want. They face harassment from their fellow students and principal. They fight with each other, almost breaking up the band. They start playing at Dante’s Pizzeria but lose their gig due to the film’s main antagonist, Ray. They even perform when Mo is sick, Charlie has broken fingers, Olivia can barely speak, and Wen has a black eye. They soldier on in spite of everything that hits them, and I find that truly inspiring.
Expression is another great theme in the movie. The teens, like all other teens, have a lot of emotions. Not only do they (we) have a lot of emotions, but their feelings are also very intense. Initially, they take their anger out on the people who love them most, but when they form a band much of that stops. They find a place to channel all of their raw energy and angst: their music, and they end up creating something absolutely amazing.
The band stands up for what is right. The main thing they fight is the school’s treatment of students who aren’t athletes and their limited freedom of speech. The day when Stella first comes to school, she wears a shirt emblazoned with “Question Authority.” This upsets the principal, and he tells her that she needs to change. Stella’s mother quickly removes her own jacket and thrusts it upon her daughter. Stella is angry with this, so she stands up at an assembly, throws aside her jacket, and proclaims that all of the students should wear whatever they want. Another example of standing up for what is right in the movie comes after the band delivers an amazing performance at the school’s Halloween Bash. Stella makes a speech about the school treating students unfairly. Mo and Olivia pass out cans of Mel’s Organic Lemonade, sold in the drink machine near the detention room where they all first met, making the lemonade the symbol of their revolution.
I loved the movie. I related to the characters well, and I thought that the actors all did a great job. I didn’t know any of the actors except for Bridgit Mendler, who played Juliet on Wizards of Waverly Place and currently plays Teddy on Good Luck Charlie. I also recognized (under her crazy costume), Tisha Campbell-Martin, who played Jay Kyle, the mom on ABC’s My Wife and Kids. The film was uplifting and realistic at the same time. I didn’t expect it to end how it did, which was as refreshing as a can of Mel’s Organic Lemonade. It has wonderful messages of standing up for what’s right, friendship, freedom of expression, perseverance, and individuality. I highly recommend this movie for the whole family, especially teens. This movie gets two ears up!