How can it possibly be twenty years since the original Mean Girls released in cinemas?! It quickly became a hit and has well and truly earnt its status as a modern classic, quoted by so many people - some probably without knowing they're doing so. Fast forward to present day and we have a new adaptation of Mean Girls arriving in cinemas, this time around though it's an adaptation of the stage musical. What could possibly go wrong?

New student Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) gets welcomed into the top of the social food chain by an elite group of popular girls called the Plastics, ruled by the conniving queen bee Regina George (Reneé Rapp). However, when Cady makes the major misstep of falling for Regina's ex-boyfriend, she soon finds herself caught in their crosshairs.
It's a shame to report that this adaptation of the stage musical feels far too flat throughout to even warrant its own existence. Now, I haven't seen the stage show, but I have seen the 2004 film, and it does every single thing better than this haphazard effort. Supposedly studios don't like advertising their films as musicals so people may be a little surprised when characters randomly burst into song, meaning the songs will have to be good and memorable. Yes, the musical aspect of it all brings a refreshing feeling to it all but the songs just aren't at a good enough level for it to become an instant hit. Save for two rather decent musical numbers throughout the film, there's not much else there in reality.

Outside of the musical numbers, this really does feel like a pale imitation of what worked so well before. Some scenes are a carbon copy of what came previously, the iconic lines we all remember delivered with absolutely no weight behind them. Mean Girls in 2004 was like lightning in a bottle and very much a product of its time; the writing and performances full of bite and venom that is distinctly lacking in this modern re-imagining. It's almost as if Tina Fey was holding back with her screenplay and the actors didn't really want to say the lines to the point where you feel second hand embarrassment.
The casting is one of the key elements to making this adaptation work and the results are rather hit and miss. Angourie Rice has proven she's one of the better young actresses out there however, while she does a competent enough job here, she feels a bit miscast in the lead role when it comes to the transition from outcast to one of the Plastics. Reneé Rapp proves to be a highlight as Regina George, both in and out of the musical numbers, even if it's hard not to compare her to Rachel McAdams' iconic performance in 2004. She's a real standout from the cast, alongside Auliʻi Cravalho as Janis and Jaquel Spivey as Damian, who provide the film with a much needed spark that genuinely saves it from being a total disaster. Cravalho singing is always a welcome addition, even if these aren't the great songs from Moana.

This iteration of Mean Girls isn't fetch at all, offering only a few flashes of fun that make it feel different and a little bit fun. For the most part though, this is a bit of a slog to sit through and just makes me want to watch the 2004, much better version instead.

Verdict: ★★½


Popular Posts