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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong messages about accepting yourself -- even if you have flaws or don't fit the norm. Plus, examples of fighting cruelty and prejudice with kindness and understanding. Plenty of characters seem to hold prejudicial opinions about Native Americans.
Positive Role Models
Though Vanessa appears meek in the beginning, she becomes a girl unafraid at asserting herself and finally proud of her unique ways. And she’s determined to prove that everyone deserves respect and consideration.
Violence & Scariness
A boy and his father shoot at a decoy deer. Later, teens discover that a peer has committed suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Boys tease a girl, asking her to show her breasts.
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"Stupid," "FUBAR" (meaning "f--ked-up beyond recognition"; the F-word is written out but with an asterisk).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Girls attend a "cigarette club" that meets to collect (but not smoke) high-end cigarettes. Students discuss how deadly smoking is.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this quirky teen drama focuses on an awkward student who transfers to a stuffy private high school and finds a way to come into her own. The film has some spot-on scenes that showcase the cruelty of high school caste systems and the misguided decisions of overprotective parents. An acronym that includes an expletive ("f--k") plays an important role in the plot, and the story is also catalyzed by a terrible tragedy that may be disturbing to younger teens, but the thought-provoking film is likely to spark some introspection by high schoolers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Halfway through DEAR LEMON LIMA, things start looking up. The inertia that afflicts the first half dissipates, giving way to a sense of empowerment as the lead character, Vanessa, starts to realize the boy she likes isn't worth the trouble, and that she, in fact, is happy to assert herself. In turn, she influences others to break out of their boxes, too. Then, the studied, stylized quirkiness that's omnipresent -- that overwhelms the film, in fact -- doesn't seem so bad; the film's color-saturated look-and-feel and tinkly-music-box soundtrack start to charm. And its message of tolerance and equality, compassion and kindness begins to work its magic.
That's the upside. But here's the hitch: Dear Lemon Lima simply tries too hard, and its forced eccentricity strains its potential likeability and power. The characters border on caricature, which is a shame. Sometimes, it's best to tell a beautiful story simply, with few adornments.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.