Thursday, January 18, 2024

Mean Girls teaches important bullying lessons but feels a little unnecessary

Mean Girls, which I saw last weekend in the theater with my 10-year-old daughter, is a good thing to do on a rainy afternoon with your 10-year-old daughter. It's a breezy adaptation of the 2018 musical that was an adaptation of the 2004 Lindsay Lohan-led movie that was an adaptation of the 2002 book Queen Bees and Wannabes.
I liked it, which is saying something because I generally don't like musicals - even though I co-wrote Wiener Sausage: The Musical! - but it also seems like a money grab with no real purpose for existing. The only real differences from the earlier classic movie include songs bursting out of the same dialogue as before (and none are particularly memorable other than the "I Am Regina George" number) and some things cleaned up to be less offensive to a slightly more evolved audience. One of the best things about it is, in fact, the way it opens the dialogue a bit more on how bullying and being mean are not helpful to anyone, and it seems young girls like my daughter can truly benefit from that conversation being more out in the open. (I ask her sometimes if there are any bullies in 5th grade, and she has so far always said no, which is impressive, since I remember after-school fights being a routine happening when I was an elementary-school kid.)
Probably the main draw to see Mean Girls for me was Reneé Rapp, who is exceptional in The Sex Lives of College Girls, and is a pretty perfect meanest of the mean girls. I think she's an upgrade from 2004's Rachel McAdams. The other characters that were a pleasure in the new version were Auliʻi Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey as the weird kids who attempt to help Cady Heron (played admirably, if not as well, as Lohan by Angourie Rice) fit into her new school and also Jon Hamm, brilliantly playing a P.E. teacher on the sex-ed beat.
While the strictly-entertainment side of me says this is a rollicking good time, the critic side of me laments the new Mean Girls' lack of originality or adding much of anything to earlier versions, the plotless and not-catchy songs, the lesser illumination of the characters' personalities and motivations, and all the boring plot points about social media.
3 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment