Mean Girls

Nearly 20 years after its initial release, a different rendition of Mean Girls – the cult teen flick penned by and co-starring Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey – tries to make as much of an impact as its predecessor did.

A common mistake is trying to compare both movies, which the film’s advertising oddly suggested. The contemporary version’s cheeky tagline “This Isn’t Your Mother’s Mean Girls” is a funny nod to incoming opinions but, also, unintentionally asks viewers to spot the strengths and weaknesses between the two versions. However, the current Mean Girls does not work as a companion piece simply because it isn’t one. The current Mean Girls works as an alternate vision; adapting the popular stage musical that was inspired by the 2004 flick while also using the musical genre to separate itself as a standalone movie.

Directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. (the latter of the duo having more of a background with music) bring a bouncy, lighthearted atmosphere to their adaptation of Mean Girls. While I haven’t seen the musical the movie is based on, the high energy replicates the excitement of large theatrical numbers. The results may be too over-the-top for some audiences but, in this sense, Mean Girls feels qualified and faithful to its genre. The movie is cast well too, discovering and pairing the luminous efforts of its young actors with fun, impressively choreographed sequences. Angourie Rice (Senior Year, Honor Society) is a sweet lead who provides an entertaining arc as she goes from kindhearted Cady Heron to a conniving “plastic”, ideally matching the selfish yet bubbly attitudes of fellow “plastics” Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika). But it’s Renée Rapp, as Regina George, who steals the show. Reprising her role she gained fame for on Broadway, she commands the screen with provocative appeal.

As much fun as I had with Mean Girls, its lightweight impression works the other way. The movie offers us a good time while we’re watching, but its resonance is short lived. You won’t be humming the songs afterwards, or chuckling under your breath from remembering any one-liners. These criticisms could very well be more suited for the original source material, but the movie fails at making the audience excited to check out the stage play. However, this seems like such a minor nitpick considering how good of a mood this film puts its musical-loving audience in.

Mean Girls is now available to own on digital home entertainment platforms.

Read Shannon Page’s review of Mean Girls


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