Mean Girls (dir. Samantha Jayne & Arturo Perez Jr.)
By: Meghan Winebrenner
There are few films more influential to the teen genre than Mean Girls (2004). Director Mark Walters gathered an all-star cast, and the film quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The original characters portrayed by Lindsey Lohan and Rachel McAdams raised a generation of women, changing the way girls talked, shopped, and dressed, while also teaching them calculus. The film is quotable, relatable, and is the perfect amount of “camp.” Mean Girls success led to the creation of the hit broadway musical of the same name, and the stage production was met with praise. Therefore, audiences weren’t surprised when new and upcoming directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. shared their plan to adapt the musical production to the big screen. Mean Girls (2024) garnered extreme interest from fans, but unfortunately doesn’t make fetch happen.
The newest iteration of Mean Girls follows Cady Heron, portrayed by Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys), as she enters North Shore High School after being homeschooled her whole life. While at school Cady instantly becomes captivated by the popular clique known as “the plastics,” and upon hearing about their toxic reputation vows to bring down their queen bee, Regina George. Regina, played by Reneé Rapp (The Sex Lives of College Girls), serves as the story’s main antagonist, but is ironically the film's saving grace. Unlike the 2004 cult classic, Rapp is the only of its lead characters that brings star-power, and she clearly overshadows her peers. Many performances come up short when weighed in the inevitable comparison to their 2004 counterparts. However, Mean Girls tailors the characters Janice and Damian to act as narrators as well as Cady’s guide to socialization, and this tweak is a welcome spark of creative and humorous inspiration.
Mean Girls’ audiences will at least be visually stimulated while they are cringing in their seats. The costuming and set design shrewdly adapts to 2024’s high school fashions and creates captivating musical numbers that are fun to follow. But, visual appeal only takes a film so far, and Mean Girls proves there is such a thing as “too much.” The film is partially preserved by its Easter eggs to the original film and Broadway production, so though fans may be disappointed with the remake, they can appreciate the adaptation's nod to people that made this film possible. It turns out that when it comes to adaptations the limit does exist.
Target Score: 3/10 - Although its heart is in the right place, Mean Girls lacks the magnetism of the original film. At its worst, the musical adaptation is a tough watch. Mean Girls is still a mildly amusing story in a time when musicals are hard to come by. Despite the hype surrounding its release, the lack of success of this musical leaves in question where the genre belongs within the current film landscape.