It’s been 20 years since the original MEAN GIRLS appeared on movie theater screens. Since then, it was made into a successful Broadway musical --- and now screenwriter and producer Tina Fey has brought the musical version to the big screen featuring many, but not all of the songs from the stage production.
Is this 2024 adaptation necessary --- a resounding no! Is it better than the original --- definitely not! Yes, I have repeatedly written that each film should be judged on its own merit. However, this version of MEAN GIRLS is completely unwarranted.
Angourie Rice stars as Cady Heron, who, after living in Kenya with her mother (Jenna Fischer), finds herself stuck in a new jungle --- high school in America. Trying to navigate those treacherous hallways hasn’t gotten any easier than in the 2004 original and again Cady finds herself at the mercy of the Plastics, the small group of elite girls led by Regina George (Reneé Rapp), who rule the school.
Regina and her two sidekicks, Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and Karen Shetty (Avantika), invite the unsuspecting Cady to sit with them at lunch. Regina has decided to take Cady under her wing and teach her how to be cool.
At the behest of her new real friends, artist Janis (Auli'i Cravalho) and “almost too gay to function” Damian (Jaquel Spivey), Cady agrees to submit herself to be Regina’s new pet project so she can spy on the Plastics and report back to Janis and Damian. All is proceeding as planned until Cady develops a crush on her AP calculus classmate, Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), who just happens to be Regina’s ex.
Originally based on Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 book, “Queen Bees and Wannabees”, Fey is responsible for writing both films and the book for the Broadway musical. Her husband, Jeff Richmond, composed the music with lyrics by Nell Benjamin. But despite the addition of social media and mobile technology incorporated into the plot, nothing is different --- or better.
The musical numbers are hugely disappointing. There isn’t one song with staying power --- the kind that remains lodged in your head long after leaving the theater. And the dancing is poorly choreographed and disjointed.
Rapp reprises her role as Regina on Broadway, and she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the look, strut --- and voice --- of a villain, but she just isn’t Rachel McAdams. And Rice is passable as Cady, but certainly no match for Lindsay Lohan. If you don’t want comparisons, don’t remake a classic.
MEAN GIRLS 2024’s biggest and most egregious fault --- it’s uninspired. Yes, it will appeal to a whole new generation, but like others that have come before, just go and watch the original.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!
Wow! And that is not meant in a good way. There is so much wrong with this movie it’s difficult to pick where to begin.
First off, MEAN GIRLS 2024 is based on the recent Broadway musical which was based on the 2004 movie of the same name. Comedienne Tina Fey wrote the screenplay for the first film and the book for the musical. And now she’s penned the screenplay for the new 2024 version.
Unfortunately, the musical numbers and the choreography do not translate well onto the big screen. Part of the problem is that most of the songs are not memorable in the new MEAN GIRLS. Auli'i Cravalho, who plays Janis, the first friend of new student Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) at their high school, intones the only memorable song in the entire movie --- “I’d Rather Be Me Than Be With You” --- and delivers her solo in fine fashion.
Additionally, the movie sends some terrible messages to young girls who might be struggling with popularity issues. For example, Cady pretends she’s dumb at math in order to gain attention from AP calculus classmate Aaron (Christopher Briney). Cady is actually a math genius.
Ms. Rice displays flashes of potentially good acting, as does Briney. Reneé Rapp as Regina George, the “Queen Bee” of the Plastics, reprises her Broadway role. In fact, I didn’t find the mean girls here to be all that mean. A couple of weak cameos by actors you know add little to the story.
MEAN GIRLS is co-directed by the team of Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. who have no prior credentials of any importance. And they still don’t.
We certainly have the expectation that a Tina Fey screenplay will deliver the goods, but her effort with this latest MEAN GIRLS leaves much to be desired. In one scene involving Cady and Aaron, they try to coin the word “grool”. It’s a combination of “great” and “cool”.
Alas, there is nothing “grool” about this MEAN GIRLS.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!