© Paramount Pictures Germany GmbH

Mean Girls - Der Girls Club (Mean Girls)
U.S.A. 2024

Opening 25 Jan 2024

Directed by: Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.
Writing credits: Tina Fey
Principal actors: Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Auli'i Cravalho, Jaquel Spivey, Bebe Wood

A recap for those who didn’t see the original 2004 Mean Girls: Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) is a pretty, sweet, innocent sixteen-year-old who is thrown into the tumultuous and treacherous jungle of the American high school clique system after spending her childhood days living in Kenya and being homeschooled by her mom. Only two social outcasts, Janis (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), welcome her on her first day at North Shore High School, coaxing her from eating lunch alone in a bathroom stall to joining them at their lunch table. It doesn’t take Cady long to discover that the stunning Regina George (Reneé Rapp), Janis’s nemesis, is running the show from the school cafeteria. Janis and Regina had been best friends in sixth grade, but Regina turned on her. Regina eventually invites Cady, who is blonde, pretty, and super smart, to join her and her posse of Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika), dubbed the Plastics, to eat at their exclusive lunch table. Their rules include: wear pink on Wednesdays, sweatpants only on Fridays, a ponytail only once a week, and…do everything Regina commands. There goes Cady’s flannel shirt and social conscience. While trying to remain friendly with Janis and Damian with the promise to help take Regina down quickly fading, Cady falls captive to Regina’s magnetic charm, and only crosses her when she falls for Regina’s ex, dishy Aaron (Christopher Briney). Regina had dumped him, but bitchily snatches him back—now that IS a mean girl. Cady then rejoins forces with Janis and Damian to get revenge on Regina.

Much of the original film and dialogue remains intact, including such phrases as Regina saying, "Gretchen, stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. It's not going to happen!" The Burn Book, the pre-social media venting device to trash classmates/teachers, survives and flourishes aided by TikTok. Tina Fey as calculus teacher Ms. Norbury and Tim Meadows as Principal Duvall lovingly reprise their characters from the 2004 film and have possibly married. John Hamm takes over as the sex-obsessed Coach Carr but is underused and downgraded to a PG-13-rated role. Lindsay Lohan, the original Regina, (unexpectedly) joins the cast as the Mathletes Moderator. Cady has no father in this updated film, but that doesn’t affect the plot as parents are mostly incidental to the teens. North Shore High School has a much more diverse student body in 2024 than in 2004, a reflection of reality rather than wokeness.

Mean Girls is a musical remake of the iconic 2004 Mean Girls movie and an adaptation of the Broadway musical which closed after an almost two-year run in March 2020 during the COVID-19 shutdown (not to mention the standalone sequel for TV in 2011.) The dancing and songs add vitality to the new film. Composer and Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond’s score, though extensive and enthusiastically performed, seems “so Broadway”, and at times, superimposed. There is no Ohrworm (catchy tune) to hum once leaving the theater. On the other hand, Kyle Hanagami’s choreography pairs perfectly with the film’s message of youthful vibrancy. The Plastics’ disastrous dance routine in the Winter Talent Show is even more hilarious than the original number with Regina taking the fall this time. Tina Fey’s brilliant comedic script is as timely as ever, showing not much in high school (and yet so much else in the rest of the world) has changed in the past twenty years.

Who is the target audience for the film which was not explicitly marketed as a musical? Is it just a jaunty walk down Memory Lane for former fans, or is it also aimed at a younger audience? According to Variety: The exit polls of the opening weekend in the US showed 60% of the audience were under the age of twenty-five of which an unsurprising 76% were female. The film raked in thirty-two million dollars which, yes, means that Regina and Cady still rule! (Pat Frickey)

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