- Mark Waters
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Monday, June 28, 2004
The story has teenage Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) joining school for the first time in her life, as she’s been home-educated so far as a consequence of her parents’ work around the world (mostly Africa). Her first day of school is disastrous, but soon things begin to shape up. Her only friends at first are goth Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and gay Damian (Daniel Franzese), who teach her a lot of how things work in school, but soon, Cady’s approached by the “plastics”, three popular, pretty girls leaded by the “queen bee” Regina George (Rachel McAdams), the other two being insecure Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and dumb Karen (Amanda Seyfried).
Cady is not too excited about becoming one of these shallow girls, but Janis insists so they can make fun of them. The result is quite different from expected, as Cady becomes addicted to popularity, and soon gets up to her chin with trouble as she falls for Regina’s ex-boyfriend (Jonathan Bennett), entering a massive bitch-fight and betraying every principle she so naturally displayed the first day of school.
I remember being in high school and feeling like the world fell over me every time I was rejected or made fun of. The worst part was thinking that I’d never be as popular, or as cool, as the popular, cool guys. My dad once told me that I shouldn’t worry about it, that the popular, cool guys would most likely become slobs once high school was over, and that I was destined for greater things. This helped me relax, and before I knew it, I myself was popular, and respected. This turn of events made me wonder why I worried so much about everything in the past, but it’s just the way a teenager’s mind works. Mean Girls is the first movie I’ve seen that captures that idea to perfection. It portrays its characters like real teenagers from the point of view of an adult, which accentuates the sometimes-absurd nature of their behavior. Saturday Night Live’s Tine Fey scored at crafting a screenplay both interested in teenagers (mostly girls) and the adults surrounding them, from parents to educators (she plays one in fact, as does SNL colleague Tim Meadows, while another colleague, Amy Poehler, plays the confused mother of Regina).
The film does lose momentum as a comedy more often than not. Sometimes it’s hilarious, sometimes it’s mordant (especially when comparing high school life to Cady’s former jungle life), and sometimes it’s simply slow. I had a hard time making up my mind about it afterwards, as it seemed rather overlong and unfocused at first. After giving it some thought, I decided my review would be mostly positive, for the scope is simply too valuable, and sets the movie apart from the average teen movie. Though it does seem clichéd towards the end, offering morals and lessons, and though it includes several scenes that seem unnecessary, the whole is definitely worthwhile, especially for teenagers and their parents.
Plus, it’s extremely well acted! Lindsay Lohan keeps showing that she’s capable of convincing in most any role, as the character of Cady morphs almost inadvertently, and she suits every stage like it’s really happening; remarkable work. The “mean girls” are also worthy of praise, especially Chabert, whose insecurity is so real you can touch it.
In the end, Mean Girls can be a mordant but realistic satire of high school, a lesson for teenagers and their parents, or just a fun film to make you laugh a little. I say, it’s simply worth a look.
“I love her. She’s like a Martian!”
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Other reviews of Mean Girls (2004): Morris