The new Mean Girls movie is good… if you don’t compare it to other adaptations
I know the Hollywood remake fatigue is real. Hollywood is so focused on remaking already iconic movies (*cough cough* the new Harry Potter and Twilight TV shows), it feels like there aren’t any more original ideas. But the new Mean Girls is the expectation.
The new Mean Girls movie is an adaptation of the Broadway play based on the original 2004 movie. All three are written by Tina Fey, but the biggest difference is that this movie is a musical, which needs to be said because it was not marketed as one.
The film starts with Janis, played by Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho, and Damian, played by Jaquel Spivey, a recent breakout Broadway star, setting up to record a TikTok-style video. The two break out into the first musical number, “A Cautionary Tale,” immediately setting the film’s campy and overly Gen Z tone.
The first musical number then flawlessly transitions to Angourie Rice’s first solo as Cady Heron. Rice is realistically awkward and socially inept, and her performance of Cady is refreshing.
While Rice’s awkwardness was realistically cringy, from time to time it did leave me wondering how this Cady would seamlessly transition to one of the “plastics.” But after a few musical numbers, I soon forgot about that fear.
Rice’s renditions are dream-like even though her singing is being bashed online. I do agree her voice sometimes gets lost among co-stars who are rising pop stars with broadway backgrounds. However, this also fits Cady’s shy and quiet character.
Renee Rapp as Regina George was certainly a standout in this movie. Rapp played Regina on Broadway, so it’s no surprise that Rapp takes the crown as queen of the plastics. Rapp’s performance of Regina was effortlessly cool and confident. She had an intoxicating aura about her and drew all the attention whenever she was on screen, which perfectly encapsulates Regina George.
On top of her acting, her voice is definitely one of the highlights of this movie, notably her song “Someone Gets Hurt.” This musical number was exciting, and her powerful vocals were backed up by the intense lighting and the choreographed background dancers.
Other notable standouts were Spivey, who plays Damian, and Avantika Vandanapu, who plays Karen. Even though these were side characters, their comedic timing couldn’t be topped. Spivey was sassy, but still brought his own flair to this character. Vandanapu’s reaction shots add the humour that is otherwise lacking in a few places. Plus her song “Sexy” perfectly encapsulated Karen, and is definitely the bop of this soundtrack.
The film also didn’t take itself too seriously, which worked in its favour. The musical numbers are colourful and pop off the screen. “Stupid With Love” perfectly encapsulates what a teenage crush feels like. This movie also finally makes Janis gay, and Regina has queer undertones, which is a huge plus for me.
Despite the standout performances and the campy setting, I’m disappointed by how much of a typical Gen Z movie Mean Girls is. While I understand that it’s a modern take on high school, the number of TikToks scattered throughout the film detract from the characters and the music. In the end, I wish the movie embraced it’s musical side more and focused less on the presence of social media.
In the end I did enjoy this movie. The vocal performances are overall great, the acting has its standouts, and it is a good time overall. But the overuse of social media really threw me off. In the end this movie is a fun watch, but if you’re expecting it to be an exact copy of the broadway show or the original 2004 movie you will be disappointed. To fully enjoy this movie, I’d recommend putting away any preconceived idea of what this movie should be and take it as it is: a campy coming of age musical.