Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Mean Girls

This week, I decided to go in a completely different direction and review a genre that may come as a surprise: the chick flick.  Mean Girls, is based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.  Written by Tina Fey, Mean Girls is a smart, sophisticated take on cliques and how to survive high school.  It features a cast of young, talented actresses and is, in my opinion, one of the smartest adaptations of the high school comedy genre.

Cady Herron (Lindsay Lohan) has never been to a regular school until the 11th grade.  She begins her first day at North-Shore High unsure if she’ll be able to navigate her way through the school and survive the taunts of her classmates.  On her second day, she meets Janice (Lizzy Kaplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese), who give her the 411 on the school and point out all the different cliques and groups.  They tell her that it’s particularly important to stay away from Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and her clique, the plastics: Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried).  They have a reputation as the meanest girls in the entire school.  Everyone admires them, yet fears them at the same time.  They invite Cady to sit with them at lunch and eventually befriend her over time.  Everything seems to being going smoothly until Regina begins dating Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett).  This devastates Cady, as she told Regina that she had a crush on him and Regina agreed to hook them up.  Therefore, Cady, with the help of Janice and Damian, aims to bring down Regina from her reign as Queen Bee.

As previously stated, this movie was extremely sophisticated and smart for a teen comedy.  Tina Fey wrote the screenplay, and although she had Wiseman’s book to adapt, the characters she wrote were completely made up and did not exist in the book.  She was able to create them based on the character types Wiseman wrote in her book.  Movies about high school often contain characters that don’t seem like high school students.  Whether it’s the way the characters speak or act, they seem to be filling a stereotype that was created in the 80’s with the advent of the high school comedy movie.  This was not the case with Mean Girls.  The characters seemed really fresh and added new flavor to the teen comedy genre; they genuinely seemed like high school students.  Whether it was Cady and her transformation from naïve home school student to next in line queen bee, or Gretchen as the former sidekick who has been thrown to the side, the characters felt like people I went to high school with.  The jokes were witty and the commentaries from different characters on different situations throughout the movie were really funny.  By far the funniest storyline was Gretchen trying to make “fetch” the next catchphrase.  The reactions from the different characters were priceless, and in turn Gretchen’s reaction to her rejection was even funnier.

Additionally, I felt that the acting was really strong for a teen comedy.  The main cast had incredible comedic timing, which is a skill that  is very underappreciated in the acting world.  The main cast was well picked: a pre-train wreck Lindsay Lohan was loveable as the newbie Cady, Rachel McAdams was the perfect mixture of Cruella Deville meets high school student, and Tina Fey was perfection as the math teacher trying to be hip.  Even the supporting cast and actors with cameos were perfectly cast.  However, the best performance by far was Lacey Chabert as Gretchen.  She was the disgruntled former best friend, and by far the most hysterical.  In every scene she was in your eyes were immediately drawn to her.  She stole her scenes and makes you root for her as the underdog.

All and all, this is one teen movie that anyone of any age would love. The writing is smart, the acting is top-notch, and even the soundtrack was awesome.  The movie definitely breaks the mold of teen comedies; it reinvented the genre and helped breathe new life into it.  Like always, I will end my review with a question: who were you in high school? Were you a plastic, drama kid, nerd, or someone who moved to the beat of his or her own drum?

Until next time happy viewing!

5 out of 5 stars

Mean Girls (2004)
Paramount Pictures
PG-13, 97 Minutes

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