Mean Girls (2024) film poster and movie review

Movie Reviews

Mean Girls (2024)

Reviewed by:
Luke Bonanno on January 11, 2024

Theatrical Release:
January 12, 2024

Though it may be superfluous, 2024's "Mean Girls" remains plenty entertaining as a new take for a new generation, specifically musical theatre nerds.

Running Time112 min

RatingPG-13

Running Time 112 min

RatingPG-13

Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.

Tina Fey (screenplay & stage musical), Rosalind Wiseman (book), Jeff Richmond, Nell Benjamin (stage musical)

Angourie Rice (Cady Heron), Reneé Rapp (Regina George), Auliʻi Cravalho (Janis 'Imi'ike), Christopher Briney (Aaron Samuels), Jaquel Spivey (Damian Hubbard), Bebe Wood (Gretchen Wieners), Avantika (Karen Shetty), Tina Fey (Ms. Norbury), Tim Meadows (Principal Duvall), Jenna Fischer (Ms. Heron), Busy Philipps (Mrs. George), Jon Hamm (Coach Carr), Ashley Park (Madame Park), Mahi Alam (Kevin G), Lindsay Lohan (Mathlete Moderator), Connor Ratliff (Mr. Rapp)


Mean Girls (2024) (2024)

by Luke Bonanno

Mean Girls is as iconic and beloved as any movie from twenty years ago, so it’d make sense they’d want to do something about that at Paramount, a studio as hungry for a hit franchise as any in Hollywood. The question was what to do with it.

Buy the original Mean Girls from Amazon: Limited Edition Blu-ray + Digital Steelbook

A sequel? There actually was a Mean Girls 2 back in 2011, but it was made for what was then called ABC Family and featured a single returning cast member (Tim Meadows as Principal Ron Duvall). A more authentic and inclusive sequel wouldn’t really have worked by then and it wouldn’t really work now as anything but a Walmart commercial.

A Broadway musical, the logical landing spot for many a popular comedy film? That already happened too, back in 2017-18, generating twelve Tony Award nominations (but no wins) and running until COVID shut down Broadway in March 2020.

You wouldn’t know it from the trailer or TV spots, but that stage musical is actually the basis of the new Mean Girls movie we get this week. This musical remake has thrice as many cast reprisals as the sequel, with Meadows returning again as well as Tina Fey, who as on the original movie is credited as screenwriter as well as math teacher Ms. Norbury and a surprise cameo I’ll discuss later. Fey also has been promoted to producer, duties she shares with her former “Saturday Night Live” boss Lorne Michaels.

2024’s Mean Girls does not dramatically depart from the original movie, which was adapted from Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes. The biggest difference is the marketing-hidden fact that characters repeatedly burst into song and dance numbers. The other big difference, which anyone following cinema could have easily predicted, is that the cast is now significantly more diverse ethnically, with the Plastics reduced from 100% Caucasian actresses to 33%.

Ads touting that “this isn’t your mother’s Mean Girls” more or less prepare you to expect the worst. How could updating that impossible-to-hate 2004 hit for a new generation not make the millennials who first took to the film cringe? By that basis, the new Mean Girls is a pleasant surprise. While of course it does not reach the same creative and comedic heights as the Mark Waters-directed original movie, it also doesn’t inspire scorn or hatred. If anything, the ’00s teens who have largely aged out of this version’s target demographic might come away with more empathy for Generation Z, or at least an appreciation that the social challenges of high school are not all that different today than they were back in their day.

Damian (jaquel spivey) and janis (auliʻi cravalho) show transfer student cady herron (angourie rice) the ropes at her clique-filled new high school.

Once again, our story focuses on Cady Heron (Angourie Rice of The Nice Guys and the Jon Watts’ Spider-Man trilogy), an intelligent home-schooled redhead whose family abruptly moves her from Kenya to suburban America at the start of her junior year of high school. There, Cady is shown the ropes by friendly outcasts Janis (Moana‘s Auliʻi Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey). They warn her about the Plastics, the clique at the top of the school’s food chain socially, and yet Cady is effortlessly welcomed into the vain, harsh group by its de facto leader, Regina George (Reneé Rapp, reprising her role she held on Broadway from 2019 to close).

If you don’t remember further plot specifics, then you’re due for a rewatch of the 2004 film. This remake remains quite faithful, with Cady losing herself while gaining in popularity and plotting how to get back at Regina for reuniting with the ex (Christopher Briney) that Cady had eyes for.

I was ready to dislike this film, a hasty musical remake of a film that doesn’t feel old enough to warrant that, opening in January of all times and with a super fake African backdrop at its start. But though it may be superfluous, 2024’s Mean Girls remains plenty entertaining, a new take for a new generation, specifically the musical theatre nerds.

Presenting the 2024 version of the plastics: gretchen wieners (bebe wood), regina george (reneé rapp), and karen shetty (avantika).

Those musical numbers are impressively brought to life with colorful visuals, elaborate choreography, and frequent shifts to the wider scope aspect ratio. While this feels like something that might have been made for MTV or Paramount+, those high production values assert otherwise. The young directing duo of Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. (“Quarter Life Poetry”), first-time feature filmmakers with a decade of short films and a handful of television credits to their name, justify their hiring with their spirited and cinematic approach. And in what seems more like a selling point than a spoiler, Linsday Lohan makes a nice medium-sized cameo near the end, picking up her biggest big screen credit in ages.

Nothing from Rice’s body of work, which is considerable given the fact that she just turned 23 last week, made her an obvious choice to fill Lohan’s shoes here or take on leading lady duties anywhere. And yet, she does a more than admirable job, revealing musical abilities she’s never before shared. Everyone around her is equally up to the substantial challenges, which helps because most viewers will be watching closely and comparing this to what actors like Rachael McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Amy Poehler did twenty years ago.

Every generation of teenagers needs some grool, relatable movies to help them get through their high school years. The prevailing wisdom here seems to be that, with minimal tweaks, one of last generation’s best teen movies will still get the job done.

Buy the original Mean Girls from Amazon: Limited Edition Blu-ray + Digital Steelbook

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