Dear Lemon Lima

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Dear Lemon Lima Movie Poster Image
Quirky coming-of-age dramedy is sweet but strained.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 87 minutes

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


A boy and his father shoot at a decoy deer. Later, teens discover that a peer has committed suicide.


Boys tease a girl, asking her to show her breasts.


"Stupid," "FUBAR" (meaning "f--ked-up beyond recognition"; the F-word is written out but with an asterisk).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Girls attend a "cigarette club" that meets to collect (but not smoke) high-end cigarettes. Students discuss how deadly smoking is.

What 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.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Kid, 12 years old September 8, 2015

This Movie Was Terrible!!!

Don't let your child watch this movie-its terrible! The effects are disastrous, and a child shoots himself because of a bunny rabbit- worst movie I've... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bydaizythacker April 6, 2013


it was okay. i liked it. :)

What's the story?

Thirteen-year-old Vanessa (Savanah Wiltfong) has liked her childhood friend Philip (Shayne Topp) forever. But he thinks she’s unsophisticated and awkward, and makes it a point to say so given any opening. (She doodles a lot and writes to an imaginary friend called Lemon Lima.) Other kids at her new Alaskan private school, where she has a scholarship, are relegating her to Team FUBAR (an acronym that crudely indicates loserdom), a group of classmates saddled with all types of ailments, from fibromyalgia to general outsider status. But they’re determined to prove their worth at the upcoming Snowstorm Survivor competition, where they will demand their right to be respected and treated as equals. When tragedy strikes, the team is all the more resolute: triumph will be theirs.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hercules’ decision. Why do you think he made this choice? Do you think he had other options?

  • What do you think about Vanessa’s approach to the Snowstorm Survivor competition? How did she transform over the course of the movie?

  • How is this movie different or similar to other movies about teens or high school?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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