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“Mean Girls”: from the mind of Tina Fey


Directed by: Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Junior

Starring: Reneé Rapp, Angourie Rice, and Christopher Briney

Rating: 3.5/ 5

Get in loser, “Mean Girls” is back! From the mind of the hilarious Tina Fey, the “Mean Girls” franchise continues to grow this year and fans aren’t sure how to feel. “Mean Girls” was created by Fey, who is well known for her writing and acting on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock”. The original film, written by Fey, was released in 2004 and loosely based on the novel “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman. The film followed new student Cady Heron as she navigates the cliques of high school and gets entangled with the mean girls of North Shore High, classically dubbed “The Plastics”. After the wild success of the first film a sequel was released in 2011, but did not perform nearly as well. Flash forward to 2017, when the film was adapted into a Broadway musical, performing 833 shows from 2017-2021. Now in 2024, the musical has been adapted for the big screen in all its glory.

The 2004 film has proven to be the staple of the franchise and 2000’s pop culture as both adaptations ring true to its predecessor. One key difference we see is through the characters, in the Broadway show and its film adaptation the character traits of Regina George, the queen bee, have been slightly altered and have a big effect on the film’s dynamic. In the original film, Rachel McAdams’ Regina had an insincere niceness, while Reneé Rapp’s portrayal (in both the musical and movie musical) is just cutthroat. Gretchen Wieners’ and Karen Smith’s character traits are very much amplified in both the musical and film adaption. Gretchen being Regina George’s shadow and Karen being an airhead are very prominent throughout the film adaption of the musical. 

Aside from characters, the movie musical diverges from the Broadway show in a few ways, the most obvious being the music. With many songs having been cut from the film soundtrack, it leaves a lot of confusion for audiences, one of the biggest losses being “Meet the Plastics”, a crucial song for understanding the dynamics of the plastics and the North Shore High School cliques as well. 

The 2024 film received mixed reviews, as half the audience didn’t realize it wasn’t just a remake of the original film. The original trailer had no signs of the musical aspects, which led to confusion for audiences. What’s not to be confused is Rapp is a spot on Regina George, and very enjoyable to watch. Reprising her role from Broadway, Rapp is the highlight of the film and has unfiltered star power. Forbes writes that “Rapp’s powerhouse singing only makes Regina more dominant”.

Rapp carried the film to new heights and is 100% fetch as argued by her predecessor McAdams stating, “I don’t think she can do any wrong, she is amazing. She’s already got me beat with that voice. I’m just excited to see her incarnation.”

On the other hand, the role of Cady Heron, played by Angourie Rice, felt out of place, as she did not match the star power surrounding her. Her scenes are some of the lacking points in the film. Marya Gates highlights, “thankfully, because this musical is structured more as an ensemble, Cady being just okay doesn’t completely torpedo the film as it would if it were built completely around her”

Audience reactions seem to have a 50/50 split between viewers, the main factor being those who knew it was a musical and those who did not. Films aren’t typically advertised as musicals because, in the past, musicals have generally flopped at the box office in recent years, a lesson learned from Steven Spielberg’s 2021 remake of “West Side Story”. Z Productions sang its praises stating, “#MeanGirls (2024) is endlessly entertaining and just a really good time. Lots of creative cinematography/direction going on as it shifts in and out of musical sequences”.

Critics’ reviews have been positive for the most part, highlighting the cast’s virality and the beautiful cinematography. The transitions from song to scene are utterly seamless, making this musical feel less in the audience’s face. This effect is most noticeable during the Halloween party scene, which is started by Avantika Vandanapu’s iconic rendition of “Sexy” (Karen Smith’s standout song), before effortlessly moving into Rapp’s “Someone Gets Hurt”. This sequence and dialogue were completely seamless. 

Whether you are a musical junkie or just a fan of the original film, Mean Girls is a blast in theaters and is definitely worth the watch (with an open mind).

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About the Contributor
Elizabeth Ippolito
Elizabeth Ippolito, Executive Producer: #THAT, Television Beat Reporter
Liz Ippolito is a Grad student studying Cinematic Production Management and recently graduated with her bachelors in TV, Film, and Media Arts with a Minor in Media Studies. She is from Oradell New Jersey and is returning for her second year as the Executive Producer on #THAT. Ippolito also serves as the Television beat reporter for the station.

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