Mean Girls Review
”Who does she think she is? I like, invented her.” - Regina
When Cady Heron and her family move from Africa to the Chicago suburbs, she has to attend a public High School for the first time in her life. Having been raised and home-schooled all over the world by her anthropologist parents, her sheltered upbringing has left her ill-equipped to deal with the teen hell she's about to enter. After initially making friends with two of the school's outcasts, Janis (Lizzy Caplan), a wannabe goth and alleged lesbian, and Damian (Daniel Franzese), Janis' flaming gay best friend, she's also befriended by Regina (Rachel McAdams), Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and Karen (Amanda Seyfried) - three members of a snobbish a-list called the Plastics because they resemble Barbie Dolls. The Plastics are popular, rich and pretty with bra sizes larger than their IQs who rule the school with well-manicured hands. Janis convinces a hesitant Cady to infiltrate the Plastics' inner circle to do a little spying, and the Plastics, who consider Cady a project of sorts, set about making her over.
Once inside, Cady makes the fatal mistake of falling for her gorgeous classmate Aaron (Jonathan Bennett), who unfortunately happens to be an ex-boyfriend of Regina's. A jealous and vindictive Regina offers to act as go-between to get Cady and Aaron together, but her ulterior motive is to win Aaron back for herself. When Cady realises what Regina's up to, she decides to get even and it's game on. Not letting on that she knows about Regina, Cady starts sabotaging the Plastics from within with a series of mean pranks (she convinces weight-obsessed Regina that a special health bar will help her lose weight, when in reality it's used by athletes to gain weight), and by dividing and conquering when she gets the girls to turn on each other. As she slowly dismantles the Plastics, she finds her own popularity growing and is ashamed when she realises she has become the thing she was so determined to destroy.
Adapted from the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman, Mean Girls is a wickedly funny and smart satire on high school life aimed not only at teen/tween audiences, but their parents too. Directed by Mark S. Waters (Freaky Friday), it is very reminiscent of teen revenge films Heathers, (a film penned by Waters' brother Daniel) and Jawbreaker but without the deaths and dark humour. In addition to a strong cast and excellent directing by Waters, the film is blessed with the writing talent of Tina Fey, one of the head writers for Saturday Night Live and co-anchor for that show's consistently funny Weekend Update. Bringing that same sarcastic humour and perfect comedic timing to her screenplay, she infuses originality into what could have been a bland send-up of high school caste systems.
Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday) is a diamond in the rough who gets better with every film she's in. Freaky Friday hinted at a blossoming comedic talent and she has a wholesome appeal that rings genuine. Rachel McAdams does an excellent job as uber bitch Regina, and Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert as her petty-in-pink partners in crime are engaging. Writer Tina Fey does double duty as the likable and recently divorced calculus teacher Ms. Norbury who really cares about her students, and fellow SNLer Tim Meadows' Mr. Duvall garners some of the film's biggest laughs with his not-going-to-take-it-anymore Joe Clark wannabe school principal. The supporting cast deserve a lot of credit too - Daniel Franzese and Lizzy Caplan are terrific as Cady's quirky friends Damian and Janis and Rajiv Surendra’s turn as a mathelete who wants to be a rapper is scene-stealing.
In a genre that features the likes of overexposed teen queens Hilary Duff and the Olsen Twins and their respective films, Lindsay Lohan and Mean Girls are a breath of fresh air. The supporting cast is more fun than most of the leads, the humour is at times politically incorrect, the camera tends to linger a bit too long on bouncing cleavage (for some of you that's probably not a bad thing) and the story is chock full of requisite stereotypes, but Fey's biting, insightful and dead-on writing makes it all work. It doesn't matter what clique you belonged to in High School, Mean Girls makes fun of them all and does it with style and heart.