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Mean Girls

A movie directed by Mark Waters

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Mean Girls: Almost Too Fey to Function

  • May 11, 2004
  • by
Pros: Fey and other SNL-ers, very funny, true-to-life for the most part

Cons: horrible ending, a few over-the-top characters and moments

The Bottom Line: Joining the bottom line is social suicide.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

The problem with most Saturday Night Live skits and SNL-based films is that they have one joke that they beat to death, and you find yourself yelling at the screen, “Please, end! This isn’t funny anymore!”

With the exception of the brilliant Wayne’s World, all of the SNL projects have suffered from a dreadful lack of material. I think we have all blocked out the traumatic memory of the Ladies’ Man movie. Mean Girls, on the other hand, is consistently funny for the first 90% of the film with several hilarious characters along with realistic, supporting “straight men.” I felt that the characters would have been strong enough to sustain the concept through a Freaks and Geeks style television series. In fact, Mean Girls falls apart only when it tries to wrap everything up into a cute, 100-minute film with an ending that left me with that sickly sweet feeling in my mouth that I get when I put too much Sweet-n-Low in my coffee.

The first feature film from SNL head writer Tina Fey, Mean Girls examines high school social structure with the fresh eye of Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), who has spent all of her life being educated by her scientist parents. Living in Africa and observing lions and tigers has also given Cady an interesting perspective on the mating rituals and rivalries that characterize high school life.

On her first day of school, Cady can’t find anywhere to sit. Cady’s voiceover takes us through a brilliant diagram of all the cliques at the school, which is presumably taken from Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes, the book on which Mean Girls was based. For anyone who has attended a diverse, American public school in the past ten years, the map of the cafeteria will ring true. After humiliating herself by trying to speak in an African dialect to the “good-looking black girls,” Cady winds up eating lunch in the bathroom alone.

The only students who take an interest in Cady are Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (David Franzese), an art geek and a guy who’s “almost too gay to function.” Despite this description, Damian’s character was one of the most realistic gay high school characters I’ve seen on screen. Janis Ian (a few knowing souls laughed at that tasty detail) used to be friends with Regina George, the leader of the popular (or “plastic”) clique at school until Regina began spreading rumors that Janis Ian was a lesbian (ha!), thus destroying her social standing. One day, the Plastics invite Cady to eat lunch with them since she is so pretty and has such a great rack, which, rumor has it, has been enhanced. Recognizing an opportunity, Janis and Damian convince Cady to infiltrate the Plastics and take them down from the inside. Predictably, once Cady has become “popular,” she forsakes her original friends and has to discover where she really belongs. Gag me with a varsity letter.

While the plot is rather lacking and leads up to a dismal, clich├ęd finale at the school dance, the brilliance of Mean Girls is in the details. Most of the interactions are true-to-life, and Fey and SNL veteran Tim Meadows are fierce, as Damian might say, as well-meaning teacher and principal, respectively. I loved the awkward but hilarious scene when Damian, Janis, and Cady run into Ms. Norbury (Fey) at the mall. The Sex Education class scene also elicited funny-cuz-it’s-true laughs as the gym teacher yells, “Don't have sex! Because you will get Chlamydia... and die!” before handing out condoms.

The “Mathletes” and most of the other kids, like those on Freaks and Geeks, seem like real high school students. The Plastics, on the other hand, were as over-the-top as Mrs. George’s boob job. As much as it saddens jacksommersby, high school girls do not look and act like that.

The Herons are remarkably “normal” for having been away from the United States for so long. Cady’s parents (Ana Gasteyer and Neil Flynn) play it straight, while most popular student Regina George’s mother (Amy Poehler) hams it up. Poehler is funny on SNL, but I found her face slightly disturbing projected on the big screen.

Apart from her faux pas involving the black girls in the cafeteria, Cady seems a little too polished for someone who has never attended public school before. At first, she struggles a little with slang and is confused when Regina uses “Shut up” to mean “That’s incredible,” but she catches up just a bit too quickly, in my opinion. Sure, she thinks that a current song is by the Spice Girls, but I once went out with someone who couldn’t name the four Beatles. Cady knows just what to wear, and pretends to be bad at math so a cute guy will tutor her, something that girls learn from Western media. Fey does emphasize, however, that all the Plastics have body image problems, while Cady has healthy self-esteem, an important point.

One notable odd choice is that Fey makes the boys in the film very kind compared to the cruel girls. As any post-high schooler can tell you, it’s not just the catty girls who torment people who they think are gay. Cady’s love interest Aaron (Jonathan Bennett) is so perfect -- apart from his lack of mathematical ability-- that you can expect to see a halo around his head in certain shots.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed Mean Girls immensely. However, when I started to tell my mom about it, she accurately predicted how the film would end. If I’d walked out twenty minutes early, I might have given Mean Girls five stars.


Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8

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More Mean Girls reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
I went into this movie fully expecting to hate it. I mean, come on, it's a movie marketed towards teenage girls, which are cringe-worthy at best and unspeakable at worst. But this one was actually pretty good, and smarter than the average teen movie. It's actually the only good movie that Lindsay Lohan managed to churn out in her adult life, but that being said, she was probably the least compelling/funny performance in the film. Every single cast member was great (even Lindsay a bit), and …
review by . July 12, 2010
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What Pompted You to write a Review?   A survey     How was the Plot, Acting, Direction?   The acting and plot in this movie was a hit.  The plot not only was hilarious but hit the High School life on the head.     Were You ENTERTAINED?   I was greatly entertained during this movie     Did It Fulfill Expectations? Hype Level?   This movie exceeded expectations!     Above all, Establish Your …
Quick Tip by . August 03, 2010
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Lohan & McAdams shine in this & 'Jingle Bell Rock' will never be the same..
Quick Tip by . July 28, 2010
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Seems like a girl movie, but is actually pretty hilarious. Rachel Mcadams steals the whole movie.
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
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The best way to sum up mean girls is you will quote this movie forever. Four for you Glenn Coco! You go Glenn Coco!
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Mean Girls is the movie of our generation. Nothing beats the humor of this film
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
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A very good movie for younger girls. Older girls can watch it as well.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
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Ah, Lindsey before things went seriously downhill.
review by . November 29, 2009
Mean girls is a interesting film, the best comedy starring lindsay lohan. This movie remind us the dramatic life of the High School but it is very funny! The life in the High School is fun but bit difficult. cady heron is a new girl in High School but to being new student in school is a lot of difficult . This film covers topics such as urban groups:      adolescents groups / mean girls:      Popular (Cady Heron group): This group is for beautiful people …
review by . December 18, 2008
There aren't many movies that I can watch over and over and over and never get sick of.  Well actually, there are four and Mean Girls is one of them (the others are Zoolander, The Wizard of Oz, and Factory Girl.)     Why Mean Girls? Well it beats any other girl movie out there, it's hilarious and it has Lindsay Lohan in it -- What more do you want?      I guess you probably do want more since you went through the trouble of clicking through:    - …
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About this movie


Mean Girls is a 2004 comedy based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. It was directed by Mark Waters and was written by co-starring actress Tina Fey. The movie follows the life of Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, as she enters public high school and finds herself unprepared for the drama that ensues with other classmates. 
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Director: Mark Waters
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: April 30, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Tina Fey
Runtime: 1hr 37min
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