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Not So Much Plastic as Cardboard: Mean Girls (2024), Review



Mean Girls: So, this is the movie version of the Broadway musical (2018) based on the 2004 movie, based on a parenting book. It's about a teenager who's been homeschooled by her parent(s) while living somewhere remote in Africa and then moves to an American suburb and has to navigate high school with mean girls (known as the"Plastics"), crushes, cliques, and complex math. My family and I are big fans of the 2004 movie- which starred Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, Lizzy Caplan, and SNL royalty, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, and Ana Gasteyer. We have not seen the musical- which is on a national tour now. Tina Fey (and Lorne Michaels producing) have been at the helm of both movies and the play.


Ok, now that we're all caught up, what was the 2024 Mean Girls movie like? This version has the same plot and many of the same beats and lines and outfits as the original movie. It features lots of songs that are good, not great- but I read it's only a fraction of the songs from the musical.


Overall- it's fun-ish. My 10 y/o and my girlfriend and I enjoyed it. My husband and son did not. Like, my husband went to the lobby to dick around on his phone because he was so bored. His complaints were valid- it was longer than it needed to be, oftentimes a scene would be accomplished with dialogue and then there would also be a musical number about it, so it felt unnecessary and repetitive. Some of the new jokes hit well, some didn't. The original jokes we love were sort of sad echoes of the originals- a La Croix when you wanted a Sprite. The songs were cool, but not especially memorable. The dance numbers were super fun and colorful and creative- I dug those.


The casting is my biggest beef. The good bits- Tina Fey and Tim Meadows played their original parts (with a fun twist). Lindsay Lohan had a cute cameo (that no one's mentioning? Will I be shot for spilling that bean?) Busy Philipps took over for Amy Poehler's 'cool mom' (a funny casting the first time around, because McAdams and Poehler are only a few years apart irl) and that was all fine. The lead, Cady, had one perfectly adequate parent, played by Jenna Fischer. The Janis and Damian pair were honored well by Auli'i Cravalho (Moana's voice) and Jaquel Spivey- good chemistry, great voices, cute evolution to modernity. One of the Plastic sidekicks was solidly funny- Avantika.


The bad bits were the rest of the leads. It was rough. Not so much plastic as cardboard. Cady Heron as played by Lindsay Lohan was smart, funny, a little naive, but clever, confident, and interesting enough to make her desirable to the cool weirdos and Plastics, alike. There's a certain glamour and humor to her that is compelling but also she's believable as the every man. This Cady, played by Angourie Rice (Mare of Eastown, Spiderman No Way Home, Black Mirror), had none of that. She didn't seem to have any personality at all, and was just kind of swept along by those around her. I assumed she could sing and that's why she was brought on, but I read that many of the parts in the songs that are Cady's in the musical version were given to other characters because she couldn't cut it...so...?


The part of the gorgeous, rich, queen bee villain Regina, played hilariously and charmingly by Rachel McAdams in 2004 was played by Reneé Rapp here. Reneé actually is a singer, with albums and legitimacy, and played the role on Broadway for a while before starring in HBO's The Sex Lives of College Girls (with Timothée Chalamet's identical sister). In SLOCG, she played a snobbish, cold, wealthy girl, so her wooden delivery didn't bother me. Here, it doesn't work. Her eyes are dead, in a Kesha sort of way. Like I wasn't positive she got the jokes. She sang the hell out of the songs, though, and she has a not stupid tiny-thin body like everyone did in the early 2000s, so I appreciated her body and style representing that cultural evolution. But, yeah, she left me longing for the comic chops of 1/2 of The Notebook.


Moral of the story: Don't pretend to be bad at math when you're actually great at math just to impress a boy, and, although I want my girl, Tina, to be in the money forever, I'm not sure this adaptation added anything to the property. If you wanna see it, watch it at home with the rest of the fugly beyotches in your family.

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