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Mean Girls Review

January 12, 2024 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Mean Girls Image Credit: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures
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Mean Girls Review  

Directed By: Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.
Written By: Tina Fey
Runtime: 112 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material, strong language, and teen drinking.

Angourie Rice – Cady Heron
ReneĆ© Rapp – Regina George
Auli’i Cravalho – Janis
Jaquel Spivey – Damian Hubbard
Bebe Wood – Gretchen Wieners
Avantika – Karen Shetty
Christopher Briney – Aaron Samuels
Tina Fey – Ms. Norbury
Tim Meadows – Mr. Duvall
Jon Hamm – Coach Carr
Jenna Fischer – Ms. Heron
Busy Philipps – Mrs. George

Nearly 20 years after the original film hit theaters, Mean Girls is back. Rather than a straight-up remake, the new update is a big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical version adapted from the original film. It’s arguable whether a big-screen adaptation of the stage musical was necessary, and the musical version is little more than a dull, boring, unimaginative facade.

The Mean Girls film follows the same basic plot structure as the original. Teenager Cady Heron (Rice) enters public school for the first time after being home-schooled all of her life and joining her mother on her research trips to Kenya. However, the wild jungles of Africa are nothing in comparison to the utter lion’s den of high school. Cady befriends the social outcasts Janis (Cravalho) and Damian (Spivey), and later she becomes one of the school’s elite, popular girls, “The Plastics,” led by Renee George (Rapp). At first. Cady seeks to take down Regina, the queen bee, a peg by scheming with Janis and Spivey, but in the process of interacting with the Plastics, she suddenly gets the attention and popularity she thought she wanted as a high school student. In the process, Cady comes into conflict with the person she thinks she wants to be. Of course, many high jinks and song and dance numbers ensue.

Sadly, the translation of Mean Girls from comedy to stage musical to movie musical deadens the story’s impact. As a musical, the film is often bland. Most of the songs and musical numbers lack a certain punch and pizzazz. The actors are capable singers, but the songs and lyrics are woefully unmemorable. Some of the musical numbers do have clever touches and flourishes. For example, there is an instance where in one of Cady’s songs, she is fantasizing about the musical sequence inside her head. While Cady is thinking up an elaborate song and dance number, her classmates look upon her with awkward surprise as she’s acting out the drama in her mind.

The musical numbers are spaced out awkwardly throughout Mean Girls. When they appear, the songs often play in a short, abbreviated manner, as if certain parts and lyrics were left out to quicken the pacing. In the meantime, when the film does attempt to recreate jokes and scenarios from the original, they lack the same impact and appeal.

Considering the original film was written and released in the early 2000s, the musical version smartly attempts to modernize the story for a 2024 audience. Bringing Mean Girls up to speed with modern concerns and issues, such as doxxing, social media mobs, text chains, being constantly online, and teens glued to their smartphones. However, the way co-directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. package these ideas leaves something to be desired. These modernized elements showcase more style over substance in terms of nonstop smartphone and social media montages. Issues aside, these aspects may speak more to audiences of the TikTok generation persuasion.

Of the copious songs throughout the film, “World Burn” featuring Rapp’s Regina George and “I’d Rather Be Me” by Cravalho’s Janis are the standouts. “World Burn” comes closest to resembling a fun and catchy song in the film. Janis displays her strong singing skills and charisma with “I’d Rather Be Me.”

Ultimately, besides being a very underwhelming musical that lacks fun, earworm songs, Mean Girls tries too hard to be hip and modern. As a result, the message of the classic film gets lost in the process, along with the humor of the classic jokes and material.

The final score: review Poor
The 411
The big-screen musical adaptation of Mean Girls fails to leave an impression with dull, unimpressive songs and repackaged material that has lost its impact. The film fails to find an adequate balance between reusing older material from the first film and struggling to find room for the song and dance numbers. Additionally, the story updates to fit Mean Girls in with a current timeframe overload the movie with a cavalcade of overloaded montages. Fans of the original and Broadway musical may still find things to enjoy, but the Mean Girls remake lacks passion and panache.