The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

“Mean Girls” Falls Flat in a Lukewarm Revival

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“Mean Girls” (2004) is one of the most iconic and quotable movies of all time. Brimming with sharp humor, memorable one-liners, and witty writing that skillfully satirizes the absurdities of adolescent angst, this film has earned its status as a cult classic and cinematic gem. I can recall my elementary-school friends and I quoting lines from the film before we were even old enough to watch it.

Thirteen years after the film’s triumphant release, the “Mean Girls” musical made its world premiere. I was lucky to watch the musical in 2022 on my high school’s senior trip to D.C. It is the only musical I have ever seen, and I loved it. The set designs were visually captivating, and the performance was lively, vibrant, and frequently hilarious, with catchy songs (“Stupid With Love”) that I hummed to myself on the bus ride home. I admittedly don’t know much about singing, but the vocal performances blew me away. 

Fast forward to today—two decades after the release of the “Mean Girls” movie and seven years after the debut of the “Mean Girls” musical—the “Mean Girls” movie/musical has arrived. Although this amalgamation offers a fresh perspective on the beloved Mean Girls universe, it wavers awkwardly in the gray space between movie and musical, uncertain of what it wants to be and often taking the worst qualities from both. 

Despite the film poster, which boasts a sultry-looking Regina George baring her teeth, “Mean Girls” (2024) lacks the bite of the original film. The movie’s comedy is composed of the same jokes—or similar jokes that have been revised to suit the modern sociopolitical climate—that its predecessor is so renowned for. However, these same-old gags lack edge, dulled by underwhelming line delivery. 

The songs (with the notable exception of Reneé Rapp’s performances as Regina George) also lack their power. They sound deflated and poorly executed compared to the outstanding vocal performances in the musical. The music producers have pop-ified many of the songs, especially Cady’s, sounding more like a weak arrangement on “Glee” than the punch of the musical’s Broadway roots. The film changed Cady’s songs to a lower key to better suit Angourie Rice’s voice.  

Additionally, the original “Mean Girls” film served as a fashion influencer, leaving an unforgettable mark on the popular culture of the early 2000s. The infamous “On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink” rule has since inspired countless trends and themed events as a playful homage to The Plastics’ fashion code. “Mean Girls” did for stretchy mini skirts and tight crop tops what Euphoria did for sparkly eye-makeup and cut-out dresses. 

I doubt the new “Mean Girls” movie/musical will inspire any outfits or fashion fads. Although Tom Broecker did the costume design for both films, it feels as though he has lost touch with fashion trends. The tiny tops, mesh corsets, mini skirts, and cropped cardigans all look like they were bought from Shein. Mind you, this is a perfectly good look for a night out at Bates College. But in an adaptation of an iconic movie beloved for its fashion—it is uninspiring, to say the least. In an interview, Broecker reported that his team “used a lot of TikTok-endorsed fashions.”

This is perhaps the movie’s most glaring issue: there is too much TikTok. TikTok videos do not belong in movies. TikTok influencers do not belong in movies. And TikTok dances absolutely do not belong in movie musicals. And yet they’re there—and it’s painful to watch. Everything feels a little too Gen-Z.

But, all this being said, I enjoyed watching the film. It’s a funny, playful, and amusing viewing experience, even if you are laughing at it more so than with it. There are a few highlights in the movie. Reneé Rapp stole the show (and my heart) as Regina George. Her acting and singing were on point, and I found myself wanting to see more of her and hear more of her. She fully embodied Regina’s cutting cruelty, undeniable magnetism, and subtle vulnerability, which is unsurprising, as she was cast as Regina in the Broadway musical at only 19 years old. Janis and Damien have good commentary and even better chemistry throughout the film. Avantika was also charming in her role as Karen, even if her dancing left something to be desired. Furthermore, the film’s visuals were occasionally interesting when switching between imagination (musical) and reality (movie), particularly in the arrangement of “Stupid With Love.”

However, even the bright spots of the movie fail to shine vividly enough to dispel the lingering question in my mind: why was this movie made? It falls short of the charm and impact of its cinematic and Broadway predecessors. It struggles in the murky space between movie and musical, lacking the oomph of the original while introducing elements that feel out of touch with the essence that made “Mean Girls” an enduring cultural phenomenon.

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About the Contributor
Gail Curtis, Contributing Writer
Gail is a sophomore from Rockport, Maine. She is an English major on the Creative Writing track, and a Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies minor. When she’s not writing, she loves reading gothic novels, swimming in lakes, and drinking honey-vanilla chai lattes from the Ronj.

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    Norman CurtisFeb 2, 2024 at 7:45 AM

    Excellent writing and summation of this confounding piece of artistry!

    Reply