MEAN GIRLS – A Review by Cynthia Flores
It’s been twenty years since Mean Girls came out in 2004. It was inspired by the hit parenting book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by bestselling author and public speaker Rosalind Wiseman.
In 2004, people only knew Tina Fey as the girl from Saturday Night Live on TV. In fact, it was her old boss, Lorne Michaels (creator and producer of SNL), who produced this film for her to co-write and act in. The film became a huge success. Inspiring a Mean Girls 2 film in 2011 that just brought a new generation of mean girls to the story in that same high school.
Then, in 2017, Mean Girls, the musical, made it to Broadway and was nominated for 12 Tonys. The only reason it closed was because Covid shut down all the theaters, and they couldn’t afford the production cost while it was shuttered. That being said, this new incarnation of Mean Girls on the big screen brings the Broadway hit musical into theaters and keeps true to the original film that became a classic.
The basic story is still the same, with only a few updates. Tina Fey co-wrote and co-stars in the 2024 Mean Girls, like she did before, only now she is co-producing it with Lorne Michaels. It is set in current times. Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), the transfer student from Africa, is raised by a single mom (Jenna Fisher) and not a two-parent team. There is more of a balanced ethnicity mix with the students and leads. Social media has been brought into the mix. And Mr. Duvall (Tim Meadows), the wise-cracking principal, is now in a relationship with Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey), the cool math teacher. The rest is very faithful to the original film.
Mean Girls tells the story of transfer student Cady Heron. She is excited to start in a new school in the States after being home-schooled in Africa. She is having a hard time navigating her life until outcasts Janis (Auli’i Cravalho), the artist, and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), her gay best friend, take her under their wings. Telling her all about how things work at school. They warn her about the elite group of popular girls called “The Plastics” by their detractors. They are ruled by the conniving queen bee Regina George (Reneé Rapp).
Along with Regina’s minions, Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika), they rule the school socially. On one of Regina’s whims, the group welcomes Cady to the top of the social food chain. Her outcast friends beg her to go along with Regina’s invite so Cady can spy on them and bring back intel to them. However, when Cady makes the major mistake of falling for Regina’s ex-boyfriend Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), she finds herself on the wrong side of Regina’s attention. Cady seeks revenge against Regina and plans to take down the queen bee with the help of Janis and Damian. The jungles of Africa have nothing on the most savage jungle of all: high school.
This new version of Mean Girls has a lot going for it. The music is excellent, and some songs will be sung after you leave the theater. However, it is not for young tweens who might benefit from hearing the message, “You don’t have to tear others down to make yourself look or feel better.” But since this takes place in high school, and some of the sexual messages are in your face and geared more towards adult Broadway audiences, it might be too mature for them. Also, I don’t appreciate seeing actresses and actors in their mid to late twenties playing teenagers like this. You can’t tell me they can’t find real teens who can sing, dance, and act to fill the spots. When we continue to place unrealistic expectations of what beauty looks like in high school as modeled by adults, we can end up setting the bar too high for the teens who will undoubtedly try to model their looks after what they see on the screen. There I am off my soapbox now.
I give Mean Girls 3.8 stars. It doesn’t have the magic that the other musical films have that are out right now, or I would have given it a higher star rating. However, it’s still “Fetch” and a fun update to the original hit film that inspired it. If you see the film in theaters, wait till the end of the credits for a snarky scene.
Directed by: Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.
Written by: Tina Fey, Nell Benjamin
Running Time: 1h 52 min
Musical / Comedy / Drama
Wide Theatrical Release: January 12th
Starring: Nell Benjamin, Tina Fey, Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Auli’i Carvalho, Jenna Fischer, Jon Hamm, Avantika, Bebe Wood
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.
4 Stars – Good movie/show
3 Stars – OK movie/show
2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…
1 Star – Total waste of time.