Directed by: Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.
Premise: An adaptation of the stage musical based on the 2004 film. A new high school student (Angourie Rice) falls in with the clique of popular girls. Her friendships are complicated by gossip and backstabbing.
What Works: The original Mean Girls was released in 2004, just before social media and smart phones changed youth culture. The 2024 version accommodates that technology in ways that mostly make sense and allow certain plot points to play out in a different way. The breakout star of 2024’s Mean Girls is Reneé Rapp as Regina George. She’s the most accomplished singer of the cast and she has a commanding screen presence that suits the character.
What Doesn’t: It’s not uncommon for Hollywood films to cast adult actors as high school students. That was the case in the original Mean Girls but the actors in that film generally looked high school age. Quite a few of the actors in 2024’s Mean Girls look much too old to be high school students. That’s indicative of the artificiality that plagues this movie. The original Mean Girls, formulaic as it may have been, was relevant to adolescent culture at that time and it felt genuine. The musical comes across as a glossy, plastic, and ultimately inferior copy of the original. Anything that was implicit and subtextual in the original film is spelled out and obvious. The characters of the 2024 version don’t feel like real people and the emotional moments are hollow. 2024’s Mean Girls is poorly produced. The lighting is frequently ugly and the sound is not very well recorded or mixed. The jokes are off; the remake recreates the Halloween jump scare scene, even using the same clip from Friday the 13th Part 2, but the timing is off and the scare and the joke don’t work. This is a lousy musical. The set pieces lack energy or musicality. The choreography is sloppy and a lot of the musical performances are mediocre. Part of the problem is the source material. The songs of Mean Girls are not memorable. They don’t advance character or plot and the film would play the same without them. And that’s the fundamental flaw of this film. The only thing distinguishing this version of Mean Girls from its predecessor is the music—it’s the only justification for this picture to exist—but the musical portions don’t add anything to the movie. What we’re left with is a remake that is redundant and inferior.
Bottom Line: 2024’s Mean Girls is a disappointingly shoddy and uninspired adaptation. Viewers would be better served by rewatching the 2004 original.
Episode: #983 (February 4, 2024)