A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lemon is a bizarre, absurd indie comedy about an existential crisis. The main character (Brett Gelman) is somewhat unappealing, but the movie's unique rhythm may intrigue some older viewers. Expect strong language, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more, plus the "N" word written out. Sex is also a bit of an issue: The main character tries to initiate sex with his girlfriend and is rebuffed, his naked bottom is shown, and he gently kisses another woman. On many occasions, characters talk about or describe violent or gruesome acts, but no violence is actually shown -- except for a pair of dead birds and some gross stuff (a phone falls into an unflushed toilet). Characters smoke cigarettes, and the main character smokes pot and hallucinates.
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What's the story?
In LEMON, Isaac (Brett Gelman) is undergoing an existential crisis. His blind girlfriend, Ramona (Judy Greer), of 10 years has begun to distance herself from him and seems on the verge of leaving him. The acting classes he teaches are stressful; his star student, Alex (Michael Cera), is getting jobs all over the world, while Tracy (Gillian Jacobs) disappoints them both. And outside class, Isaac's acting career is sinking, despite the fact that he landed a job for a rather disturbing commercial. A Passover dinner with his insane family sends Isaac over the edge, and, in an attempt to right himself, he starts dating a beautiful Jamaican-American woman named Cleo (Nia Long). But an afternoon barbecue with her family brings out more of the same absurdities and sends Isaac back to the drawing board.
Is it any good?
This offbeat comedy, based somewhat on the experiences of real-life couple Gelman and director Janicza Bravo, is as deadpan, absurd, and surreal as a movie can get. It's part off-putting and part intriguing. As Lemon begins, Isaac comes across as dour, depressing, and miserable -- certainly not anyone that most of us would like to hang around with. It's easy to understand why the people in his life would be upset with or disillusioned by him, and it's tempting to join them, and ditch him for good.
But as the movie goes along, Bravo's unique rhythms -- her wide, empty spaces and seemingly arhythmic, premature cutting -- start to provide a kind of sly, slow-burn humor. The characters' talk is bizarre and exasperating, but Bravo seems to know it by the way she truncates their blather. She begins to create music and laughter with the way she chops into scenes, leaving them undone. A Passover sing-a-long to "A Million Matzoh Balls" is a turning point, and certainly Long's Cleo adds a soulful center to the movie's second half. By the time Lemon wraps up, it feels less sour and more bracing, like lemonade.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Lemon depicts sex. Is it loving, angry, dispassionate? How could the characters improve their connections? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Many of the characters seem to like to talk about violent or gruesome imagery. What impact do these moments have?
Is Isaac an appealing character? What makes him worth watching?
What audience do you think this movie was intended for? How can you tell? What does the title mean?
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