One of my misapprehensions going in “Lemonade Mouth” was that ultimately the film would serve as a function to promote the lovely Ms. Bridgit Mendler. And while yes that is true, “Lemonade Mouth” holds true to the characters’ ideals that this is a group story about a group of people who come together to make some damn fine pop music and as such while Mendler is the spotlight player (being Disney’s now go to gal for a franchise), she’s not the highlight. Why did I watch this? Admittedly for Hayley Kiyoko who above all is one groovy mama jama whose own life is like a rock fantasy. Thankfully, she’s also not the sole highlight of the film.
Deep down the core of the film is about five kids who form a band and the writers hold true to that promise that this is about five characters and five characters only. While everyone else takes center stage at one point or another (Lemonade Mouth has a rival band who hates them), the movie is about the coming of age of five kids who realize they want to be different. Lemonade Mouth is a term that refers to the mouth shape that molds whenever it puckers at the taste of Lemonade and this becomes the basis for the band primarily because it’s a ritual they perform before gathering to perform. There is a bevy of talent among the ensemble cast here with folks like Mendler giving a heartbreaking performance as the group’s lead singer Olivia, while the others never quite reach her momentum of tragedy.
She’s a girl raised by her grandmother whose mom is MIA and dad is in jail. The rest of the other band mates problems sound pretty minimal after hearing her plight, but nevertheless they have something to prove to over approving, disapproving, perfectionist parents who expect something out of everyone in the group. Of course they come under the assault of the school’s principal (Christopher MacDonald) who is so over the top he’s practically an eighties villain, who hates their anti-establishment speech. Grrr!
He hates their rebelliousness so much he tells them what to wear and forbids them to play at school, with nary a peep from the parents of school administration. Grrr! The highlight beyond the cast mates strong performances is of course the music and Lemonade Mouth creates some damn listenable music at the behest of their bespectacled music teacher (played with her usual shrillness by Tisha Campbell). “Lemonade Mouth” is the vehicle that Disney dreams of in their sleep. It has album potential, sequel potential, a cast of fine upstanding young actors (Adam Hicks continues to grow on me), and a story that can be further emphasized with spin offs. I enjoyed it and if only to see the bad ass Kiyoko stomp on to Disney once again.