‘Mean Girls’ Movie Review: A Fetch New Take on the High School Cult Classic

Mean Girls

I’ll admit, I had my pink pumps firmly planted in skepticism when I heard they were remaking the 2004 cult classic Mean Girls. A movie based on the Broadway musical based on the original film seemed like it could be a terrible idea. But with Tina Fey behind it and Reneé Rapp in the role of Regina George… I was optimistic that it could work.

And work it does, despite the fact it doesn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of its predecessors (the musical or the 2004 film). It’s still a fabulously fun film that will have fans of the musical singing along the whole time. 

Mean Girls Quote

Here’s What You Need to Know

With this remix of the classic, Tina Fey does a beautiful job of balancing a fresh new take on the story while still retaining the essence of the beloved original. For those unfamiliar with the 2004 Mean Girls, the Broadway musical, or this version of it. Here’s what you need to know.

Newcomer Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) gets initiated into the elite social group, “The Plastic,” which is led by the infamous Regina George (Reneé Rapp) and assisted by Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika).

Trouble starts to brew when Cady falls for Regina’s ex, Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), which lands Cady in Regina’s line of fire. With her outcast allies Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), Cady plots to overthrow Regina. And, amidst all this high school drama, Cady must learn to stay true to herself.

Mean Girls Movie Trailer

Mean Girls Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

With a one-hour and 37-minute run time, Mean Girls breezes by thanks to its catchy musical numbers and charming cast. The updated songs by Jeff Richmond cover a range of styles, from pop bops to Broadway belters, that keep the energy high. That being said, some of the musical numbers do slow down the pacing rather than propelling the plot forward, and the film even makes fun of itself for that.

And, while the film visually pops from beginning to end, it lacks some of the depth and heart that worked so well in the first movie. The characters feel more cartoonish and less fully realized. But I also realize that I’m heavily biased towards the 2004 film.

The Script

Despite not loving the movie as much as its predecessor, I did feel that the updated script by Fey did a solid job of freshening up the story while still paying homage to the original.

Most importantly, the film retains the core DNA that made Mean Girls so fetch in the first place – the complicated relationships between teen girls and all the messy drama that ensues. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much time passes – these themes will still be relevant and resonant with those who are teens and those who were teens.

Mean Girls The Plastics
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Performances

The cast is pitch-perfect, led by an effervescent Angourie Rice as good-girl-gone-bad Cady Heron. She has all of Lohan’s wide-eyed charm but brings a softer vulnerability to the role. Also, whoever cast her and Jenna Fischer as daughter/mother deserves recognition because Rice looks like she’s actually Fischer’s daughter. But I digress.

The real star here is Reneé Rapp, who is deliciously perfect as queen bee Regina George. Reprising her Broadway role, Rapp clearly relishes in the opportunity to bring Regina to the big screen. With her cutting insults, withering glares, and malicious scheming, Rapp creates a wonderfully entertaining bad girl – the type of antagonistic force you loathe even as you can’t tear your eyes away.

Auliʻi Cravalho also delivers a fantastic performance as Janis, the best friend we all wish we had in high school. As the artsy outcast with a flair for revenge, Cravalho brings the perfect amount of deadpan snark and hidden vulnerability to the role. Whether she’s sarcastically muttering biting remarks under her breath or boldly belting out her own underdog musical anthem, Cravalho’s Janis is easy to adore and cheer for.

Additionally worth noting, Avantika and Bebe Wood deliver solid performances, rounding out The Plastics, as Karen and Gretchen. Jaquel Spivey, as Damian, is equally entertaining. And, the supporting cast, including a scene-stealing Tina Fey as Ms. Norbury and Tim Meadows as Principal Duvall, is excellent.

There also may be a surprise cameo… but no spoilers here. 😉

Mean Girls
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Overall Thoughts

For fans of the original, rest assured this remake is in very capable hands. For those new to the story, you’ll find an enjoyably escapist and energetic teen musical romp. It may not reach quite the same heights, but the 2024 Mean Girls is still fabulously fetch in its own way.

Mean Girls Movie Review:

Grade: B


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