Mean Girls (2004)

April 30, 2014
Photo Credit: Mean Girls / Paramount Pictures
Cady (Lindsay Lohan) was once living in Africa with her zoologist parents on a 12 year research trip. Uprooted to the Evanston, Illinois, the sixteen year old enters public school for the first time. Homeschooled for her entire life, the innocent fresh meat is sucked into a whirlwind of superficiality with the Plastics; the popular cool girls led by the master of evil Regina George (Rachel McAdams). Welcome to Girl World. It is terrifying place known as high school where the nice personalities of outcasts, sport clubs, and the closest of best friends forever are often covering up a mean girl.

Having been homeschooled throughout high school like the main character, I didn't quite understand this movie when it was first released. Being awkward, sporty, and perceived as just plain weird in middle school, I had my fair share of gal pals turn against me to become a "Plastic"; playing mean pranks to get me in trouble with teachers, spreading rumors, and all that juvenile jazz. However, I never really became a Cady. Outcast friends who convinced me it was a good idea to befriend the ruthless popular girls to in return play revenge pranks on them. It wasn't hard for me to stay in my own little bubble world 'cause I just didn't understand my peer's politics, so I avoided everyone like the plague.

Now that I'm only a little bit older, I totally get this movie. The humor, the characterization, and the social order of high school that acts more like a jungle than any civilized place in society. It's no reason that this movie enjoys a large cult following most popular on tumblr where phrases like "She doesn't go to this school" and "Life ruiner" are only a few examples of many eternal online trends.

There's a Cady inside all of us who naively have tried to earn validation from our peers or got lost in a world that is entirely the opposite of who we are. Likewise there is a character in Mean Girls that we have all dealt with before; a Plastic, an outcast, the jocks, the geeks. As Cady winds her way down the pink road of doom and superficiality, the story is a great satirical take on what it means to be a girl and the crazy world of high school. Forced to become a Plastic and then morphing into one entirely, the crazy ways in which Cady plays pranks on her friends to get back at her friends being cruel to others drums up a lot of underlying issues of girl power. In a world where we can't respect each other, why should anyone else?

It's interesting to note or put up for debate that the performances by this main cast might've delivered their best work to date. From Lindsay Lohan to Lizzy Caplan (Cady's first acquaitance at school), each character has been cemented as an icon in the teenage film genre as well as pop culture. Lohan portrays the innocent new girl who is hooked, line, and sinker into the cliques of those around her. It's refreshing to take a look back at Lohan to see her before the pressures of the celebrity world caved in around her. Slowly she morphs into the scary queen bees she hangs out with like Regina George, brilliantly played by Rachel McAdams. The Canadian actress most known for her role in the romance The Notebook plays her platinum blond cheating weight-loss obsessed character with great ferocious cruelty; despite how evilly self-absorbed she is, McAdams is funny and aloof enough to make her vengeful character a believable - and somehow - love to hate villain.

There might be too many actors that are also worthy of mentioning for their cameos and brief performances for me to list here. Perhaps the best supporting appearances come from Amanda Seyfried and Tim Meadows. The former captures the pure dumb blond stereotype with a wide range of comedy; she's never just dumb but always a little slow on the uptake and innocently believing whatever her best friends tell her to believe. The latter plays the high school principal, and in my opinion, delivers some of the best lines of the film when he is forced to confront the entire female body of the school attacking each other as a Burn Book (scrapbook filled with pictures and insults) is released and causes a riot.

What makes Mean Girls a memorable teen flick is the sarcastic and honest portrayal of high schooler's revenge games successfully from the script. SNL alumni member and comedian Tiny Fey adapted a part of Rosalind Wiseman's non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes as her foundation for the movie. Not every line is a classic, nor is every scene necessarily conduit to the story, however, the writing makes the whole movie essentially hilarious delivering plenty of memorable lines for current and future pop culture geeks. Balancing enough tension and comedic timing, the plot moves swiftly letting us get caught up in the ruthless jungle where a bit of redemption can be returned to Girl World.

Looking at this 2004 hit comedy, it's hard to believe that Bridesmaids is touted with delivering on a comedic film with an all-female cast. Personally I found gratuitous and fruitless mature comedy in that Kristin Wigg film to be an assault on my ears and eyes rather than anything remotely funny. Despite the cultural popularity, Mean Girls is truly a bad-ass comedy film that is often overlooked. Overlooking the obvious high school setting, the movie delivers on layers about coming of age, its characters and story is funny, believable, and just a tad too mean for words.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Mean Girls? What did you think?

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