Ever since the kids at East Side High graduated, Disney has been trying everything it can to re-capture the lightning that sparked the High School Musical series to tween super stardom. Although Camp Rock managed to find some success, it fell flat. Lemonade Mouth: Extended Edition is a different story entirely, managing to eclipse even High School Musical.
If there's one thing that separates Lemonade Mouth from Camp Rock, or in some respects High School Musical, is that it has heart. Saying that Lemonade Mouth isn't what I was expecting would be a massive understatement. Originally, I expected a Disney-styled musical developed to help show off Bridgit Mendler, who by all indications seems to be The Mouse's next big teen star. Although she manages to outshine nearly everyone else in the cast, she isn't the main focus. Instead, everyone gets a chance to stand out, which is a big change from past movies, which relegated some main characters to dancing props.
Lemonade Mouth begins with five kids in detention who manage to turn cleaning into an impromptu jam session. The group eventually lands their first gig opening for Mudslide Crush, the current local favorites to win the "Rising Star" competition. After the gig, Lemonade Mouth earns a massive following, especially once they begin to speak out about the school robbing other programs of funding in favor of sports. Of course, not everyone is a fan, especially Mudslide Crush, who are determined to make sure Lemonade Mouth doesn't play at Rising Star.
Unlike other Disney-produced tween musicals, Lemonade Mouth is based on Mark Peter Hughes's book, which is a big reason for the film's success. The story came first, not the songs. This makes a huge difference. Songs are more organic and feel natural to the story. One or two songs seem to materialize out of nowhere, though even then, there is a natural ramp up rather than a spontaneous explosion of well-tuned, intricately choreographed songs taking place outside of the story.
All of the songs are infectiously catchy (I've been humming "Determinate" for the last few days), but I really liked the message about being who you are ("Be Heard. Be Strong. Be Proud."), which is always great for kids to hear. The message is upfront throughout the movie, though viewers are never beat over the head with the idea. Lemonade Mouth also takes a massive departure from the norm by avoiding cheesy, overly dramatic scenes of teen angst or soap opera romances. Instead, all of the kids are challenged with relatable problems and situations. Wen (Adam Hicks) is uncomfortable about his dad dating a much younger woman, while Charlie (Blake Michael) and Mo (Naomi Scott) are coping with having to live up to their parent's high expectations.
Then there's Olivia (Mendler), who is dealing with the death of her mom and her father being in prison. Compared to other Disney movies, Lemonade Mouth plumbs a few unexplored issues, which makes it even more interesting. Although most of the story is formulaic, there are enough twists to keep viewers guessing.
The Extended Edition includes one extra musical sequence, as well as "Rock-Along," which adds Karaoke-style lyrics at the bottom of the screen during music sequences. There's also a digital copy of the movie. It's always nice to see more robust extras, but with Lemonade Mouth, I think the movie might be enough for the fanbase.
Lemonade Mouth is one of the best teen-focused movies to come out of Disney in the last few years. The music is sure to please younger viewers, but the story is good enough that most parents will want to watch as well.
ClipsBack off the Bash
This is that Moment
Turn up the Music