Published on May 3rd, 2004 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Mean Girls
Let it be said that I saw this movie based on the fact that Tina Fey wrote it. There is no other reason, there is no other explanation, I simply saw this movie based on good reviews and the fact that one of the funniest people on TV wrote the film. With that said, let me be the first twenty-one year old straight male to acknowledge that I had a good time watching this chick-flick mainly because, as the Hollywood Summer Season ramps up, there will be less and less movies with anything resembling a plot and more and more mindless action.
Mean Girls focuses on the life of Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) who had been home schooled for her entire life when her parents decide to move back to the States, from Africa, and throw her into high school. On her first day she meets up with Janis (Lizzy Caplan), a Goth chick, and Damian (Daniel Franzese), a gay guy, who will become her new friends. Much like most high school movies, Mean Girls focuses on the groups of similar individuals who hang out together, and shun the rest of the world for not being good enough. Cady (pronounced “Katie”) is sent to infiltrate the “Plastics” a group of the meanest and prettiest girls in the entire school. Although, after hanging out with them for such a long time, Cady begins to become one of the plastics and shuns her only friends.
The film is pretty much by the book for the most part in the plot department. The film is essentially a story of finding yourself in the least likely places. If it wasn’t for Tina Fey’s sharp, witty script the film would be nothing more than just another teen movie. When Cady is sent to spy on the plastics we get a short, but funny, fish out of water subplot that puts her into the normal teen girl world after being sub-planted from Africa. Her first seen at school in which she tries to talk to a group of African American students is laugh out loud hilarious, and, fortunately, this isn’t the only time you will be laughing. Fey’s writing, based loosely on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes, is what makes this movie. The film has been compared to Heathers, another dark, popular girl film, without the deaths.
The casting also helps out. Rachel McAdams’ Regina George is the definition of evil in school. Everyone remembers the one pretty girl who had the entire school wrapped around her finger, and while she wasn’t using that finger in provocative ways, it was being used to manipulate whomever she wanted. In this case, the students being manipulated are her two friends, Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried). Both Gretchen and Karen accurately portrayed as dumb, pretty girls only thinking about guys, shopping, and fashion. Aside from all of this, let us no forget Lindsay Lohan’s Cady as the troubled high school student trying to fit in and only succeeding when she changes herself. Lohan has certainly grown out of the family friendly, Disney-inspired fare of her younger days and shown that she has the acting chops to be one of Hollywood’s hottest young, leading ladies. Let’s hope she doesn’t subvert to being type cast in every movie she is in.
The film features notable cameos from many of SNL‘s current, and former, stable of comics including Tim Meadows as the dry, hilarious school principle. Amy Poehler is Regina’s trying-to-stay-young mom who’s chest attracts her dog like a chew toy. Ana Gasteyer is Cady’s mom, and Fey, herself, portrays recently divorced Ms. Norbury who has some of the funniest lines in the entire movie. All in all, the film shows that producer Lorne Michaels is capable of putting something funny on the big screen.
The film’s only problem is the expectation that you will see a constant back and forth of gags between Cady and Regina when they are at odds with each other. The trailers seemed to make it feel as though each of the girls would one-up the other trying to get back at them, but, aside from a Final Destination like bus incident, we get nothing of the sort.
While you may have seen enough teen movies in your lifetime to fill a small film collection, but Mean Girls is different because it shows, in the most realistic sense, that high school is a bitch that we must live through. The strong script saves the film from the mediocrity of its by-the-book plot, and equally strong acting makes the film all the more believable.