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Movie Review: Mean Girls

Jada Jonassaint

Spoiler Alert

If you don’t care about spoilers or have already seen the movie, feel free to keep reading. If you do care about spoilers, please take the time to watch both movies and listen to the Broadway musical soundtrack before coming back to read.

Yes, you read that correctly. Not only is the new “Mean Girls” movie that was released on Jan. 12 based on the original “Mean Girls” film from 2004, but also the Broadway musical adaptation that premiered in 2017. So, if you thought this was just going to be a remake of the original, this might not be the movie for you.

Though it was not advertised as a musical, my friend and I knew, which was part of the reason we were interested and saw it together opening weekend. Considering how classic the original film is to every teen girl, this adaptation was highly anticipated. Especially by me. It was enough to bring me to a theater for the first time since summer.

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I thought it was a pretty good movie. However, many things could’ve been improved upon.

My biggest problem with the movie is that it felt rushed overall. The viewers don’t get to see many of the main elements from the original movie being played out. I believe part of the reason is because the songs took up most of that time. A turning point in the original film is when Cady Heron ditches her friends Janis Ian and Damian Hubbard to spend more time with “the plastics,” thus initiating her transition from new girl to mean girl. In this version, it seemed like we saw her more with Janis and Damian trying to sabotage the plastics, instead of transforming into one. All of this was also playing out during one song.

After watching a movie, I like to watch interviews from the cast. One of the interviews I watched proved the fact that it was rushed by saying production only took a month.

The casting in this movie was hit or miss. It was nice to see some returning actors to their roles. For example, Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprised their respective roles of Mrs. Norbury and Mr. Duvall from the 2004 film. In addition, Renee Rapp reprised the role of Regina George, which she played on Broadway from 2019-2020 and her performance was strong. There were also some fun cameos that I won’t spoil.

However, I don’t think the casting for Cady Heron and Aaron Samuels, who are supposed to be interested in each other, was the best. Heron is played by Angourie Rice and Samuels by Christopher Briney. Though I like them as actors in other roles I’ve seen them in, this was not their best work. They never really had chemistry with each other and their characters didn’t interact as much as in the original film. This makes it harder for the audience to root for their relationship. Rice also has a few numbers where she sings including two solos. I don’t think her vocal performance was strong enough for a musical role.

I think the musical element served the film nicely, but the way they were presented and performed also had its pros and cons. As I mentioned, the songs did tend to slow down the plot and flow of the film at times. While I feel like all these songs are necessary, most of the scenes featuring these songs had the characters singing in the same spot and not really moving the storyline along. Because of this, my favorite songs both sung and performed were in the second half: two songs Regina sings and one Janis, played by Auli’i Cravalho, sings.

Considering this movie was made 20 years after the original, it added a few more modern elements to appeal to its crowd and fit with the times. For example, there was much more LGBTQ representation. This is where I believe the original was ahead of its time in making Damian a gay character and accusing Janis of being lesbian. This version changed the story behind Regina and Janis while actually making Janis lesbian as well. There were also more additions of social media since that wasn’t as big in the early 2000s. I think social media worked well for the trends set and spreading of the Burn Book. But in some scenes, it was too much of a sensory overload.

One of the elements this film took out from the original was the iconic three-way calling. Since the movie already incorporated modern elements, in my opinion, this was a missed opportunity to include a FaceTime call between them instead.

Despite all these comments, I really enjoyed watching the movie and would overall recommend it. It was a fun movie with good songs and a classic plot. The experience was especially enhanced in the theater with good friends. Overall it was great.

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