THE SCREENING ROOM
By Bill KallaySometimes I forget what it was like being a kid and teenager. Movies like "Lemonade Mouth," almost by default, cause me furl my brow and think to myself that movies and music that I grew up with were far better than what is made today.
"Lemonade Mouth" is now on DVD.
I saw life and pop culture differently than my parents. What was cool to me was annoying to them. Granted, my parents were not your typical Baby Boomers. They preferred listening to Frank Sinatra instead of The Beatles. Still, there was a divide between what I enjoyed and what they enjoyed. I could not, for the life of me, understand why in the world they did not like listening to Def Leppard or even Led Zeppelin. Come on, mom & dad, Zeppelin was from your era! But then I realized as I became older, a person's tastes in music and movies can change. I figured out that people tend to cling onto their youth in some ways. That is probably why I still listen to the music I grew up with and watch movies I think are still classic.
Which brings me to "Lemonade Mouth," Disney Channel's latest movie. My daughter has now entered the teenage years and slowly but surely, Disney Channel is not the premiere televison venue for her. She tends to prefer playing with her iTouch or watching other movies. Yet she insisted that I review "Lemonade Mouth" and I complied.
The cynical side of me does not like this movie. After watching Disney Channel for over a decade now with my daughter, I have become accustomed to how the channel operates. The shows almost all feel alike. Ever since "High School Musical" entered the scene in 2006, the channel has initiated a few musicals. Nearly every kid on Disney Channel is an über-talented child actor/singer/performer cut from the same cloth. Obviously Disney Channel's programmers and casting agents know what they're doing, because the channel continues to draw in audiences. But for me, the formula has become predictable, and "Lemonade Mouth" feels like the lemonade has a familiar taste.
Essentially the plot borrows from "The Breakfast Club" (1985) by putting a diverse group of high school kids into detention. They discover how talented they are and form a rock band. Naturally, they all come from different backgrounds and have their issues. Naturally, one of the characters has a mom who has died. Naturally, there is the rebel of the group who tries stirring the pot. Naturally they act and look nothing like normal everyday teens, at least not the ones I grew up with. In watching the movie, I felt I had seen this movie before and had seen these characters before. There is nothing wrong with having familiarity in a story, but I guess I have seen a lot of Disney Channel movies.
Although Bridgit Mendler is technically the biggest star in the cast, Haley Kiyoko steals most of the scenes. But I say that with hesitation. Her character is rather obnoxious. This is not to say that Kiyoko is not a good actress. I have seen her on recent interviews and she is likable in-person and nothing like the character of Stella. But in the movie, she is trying too hard to be rebel, when I think deep inside, she is nothing of the sort. Her main problem is that her family is made up of brainiacs and she is not one of them. The character of Olivia (Mendler) has a far more involving backstory with her mom being dead and her dad being in prison. Cliche, indeed, but more compelling. I honestly did not get into the the other band member's backstory.
I enjoyed the songs in the movie. They are very much in tune (no pun intended) with most of Disney Channel's style of pop-meets-soft rock. Highly produced and massaged to sound nearly perfect, the songs keep the otherwise paint-by-numbers story moving along. I felt like I have heard these same type of songs sung by any other Disney Channel stars like Selena Gomez or any member of the "High School Musical" cast. When I joke with my daughter that the songs in "Lemonade Mouth" sound almost exactly like Selena Gomez, my daughter rolls her eyes and says, "Dad!"
Def Leppard morphed into songs tinged with rap and Auto-Tune. Rock videos that dominated my generation have given into Disney Channel musicals. To some degree, I have grown into becoming my mom & dad. There is a generational difference in the entertainment my daughter and I enjoy. There is nothing wrong with that. I am sure that critics bemoaned "The Monkees" back in the '60s. Who would have thought they would still be heard on the radio in the 21st century? I doubt that the songs in "Lemonade Mouth" will be heard twenty years from now. But who knows?
Did my daughter enjoy watching "Lemonade Mouth?" She has watched it at least three times on DVD, so that must be an indication she enjoys it.
Special thanks to Click Communications
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