There are certain expectations that accompany the screen adaptation of a successful Broadway musical. There are even more when that musical is in itself a reworking of an iconic film. Therefore, one could hope that Mean Girls, might be able to satisfy the fans of the original material. Alas, this sadly isn’t the case. This new film is the directorial debut of Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr, from a screenplay by Tina Fey.
The Mean Girls Trailer
The New Mean Girls Cast
With the narrative closely following its previous iterations, we’re reintroduced to Cady Heron. Angourie Rice portrays Cody as she ventures into the clique-filled ecosystem of her new high school. Reneé Rapp essays the role of Regina George. The supporting cast also includes Auliʻi Cravalho as Janis ‘Imi’ike. Christopher Briney also appears as Aaron Samuels. Jaquel Spivey is the films Damian Hubbard, and Bebe Wood as Gretchen Wieners.
The Letdown Of The Movie
Rice, despite the poor direction, gives an earnest performance. A noteworthy shoutout to Bebe Wood as well. Bebe’s performance as Gretchen Wieners carries more nuance and personality than many other characters. She’s able to illuminate the scenes she’s in with much-needed charm and presence.
Unfortunately, beyond Rice and Wood’s admirable contributions, Mean Girls provides a rather flat and uninspiring viewing experience. One major flaw is the disjointed adaptation of the musical sequences, with song numbers feeling awkwardly inserted rather than enhancing the narrative. For a film of its nature, the musical sequences should be the standout element, not an afterthought.
Equally frustrating is the lackluster cinematography that is unambitious at best. This leads to several moments where they completely squander the impact of certain scenes. For instance, the much-anticipated confrontation between Cady and Regina fails to live up to the tension and dramatic weight of its counterpart in the 2004 film.
The characterization also falls disappointingly short. The brilliant nuances of Fey’s writing are lost amidst superficial performances and a seemingly absent directorial vision. In an attempt to maintain the modernized characters established in the musical, much of the charm and depth from the original film gets lost. A major culprit of this is Rapp’s Regina George. Despite her best efforts, Rapp’s Regina simply doesn’t capture the magnetism and ruthless cunning of the character established in the original.
Moreover, despite its roots in an excellent critique of teenage girl behavior and cliques, Mean Girls never quite settles on a tone or style. Its fluctuating demeanor confuses its critique with blatant ridicule. This is a clear sign that Fey’s sharp, poignant, commentary is lost in translation.
Furthermore, Fey and Tim Meadows, reprising their roles from the original film, serve little purpose beyond sparking some nostalgia, ultimately highlighting the new version’s shortcomings compared to the original.
The biggest letdown comes from the apparent fear of taking any risks. One could only wish the film was daring enough to depart from the familiar and venture into fresh territories, to explore different aspects or to introduce more updated elements relevant to today’s teens.
Ultimately, despite some fine performances by Angourie Rice and Bebe Wood, Mean Girls falls prey to its fear of departure, leading to a frustratingly stale and tepid rehashing of a story that was once so wholesome and charming. Thus, its fair to say, this venture was quite simply ‘not fetch’.
Mean Girls Review: This Musical Remake Is Definitely Not Fetch
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 3.5/103.5/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 4/104/10
- Setting/Theme - 4/104/10
- Watchability - 3/103/10
- Rewatchability - 2/102/10