“Mean Girls” movie musical was not “fetch”

Return to Northshore High School with a musical flair in the new adaptation of the beloved 2000’s classic Mean Girls. Mean Girls follows Cady Heron’s first year at Northshore High school (played by Lindsay Lohan in 2004 and Angourie Rice in 2024), as she explores high school cliques, the desire to be popular and the lengths teenage girls will go to get there.

Cady moves from Africa to Evanston when her mother is offered tenure at Northwestern, and has to begin anew in a world entirely different from the one she grew up in. She feels like an outsider due to her lack of knowledge about social situations because she has been homeschooled her entire life. Befriended by Janis and Damian, fellow outcasts, Cady begins to find her place.This is quickly derailed when she is befriended by the most popular clique: The Plastics, a group consisting of the beautiful yet backstabbing Regina George (Renee Rapp), airhead Karen Shetty, (Avantika Vandanapu) and clingy follower Gretchen Weiners (Bebe Wood).

Sadly Cady’s internal monologue, a guiding perspective in the original film was cut from the adaptation. In the 2004 film, Cady compared her new life to her old life in Africa with comical sequences to illustrate Cady’s inexperience with complex human interactions. These scenes in the original provided chances to compare the actions of the Plastics to the ruthless behavior of the animals of Cady’s childhood in Africa.

Another missed opportunity was the casting of Mrs. George, Regina’s mom. Having Rachel McAdams play the role of the pink sweatsuit wearing, over-energetic ‘cool mom’ who considers herself ‘one of the girls’ would have been a comedic nod to the original movie. Another possibility would be having Amy Poehler reprise her iconic role, which she hilariously portrayed in 2004.
Overall, the casting decisions in this new adaptation were rather questionable. Angourie Rice, while a good actress, was not the right choice to portray Cady, and her scenes felt unnatural with her songs lacking the energy present in the rest of the musical. The movie was carried by Renee Rapp’s vocals, to make up for the lack of jokes and mostly mediocre songs with the exception of Janis’s anthem “I’d Rather be Me”. Auli‘i Cravalho, who played Janis, made her film debut as the titular character’s voice in the 2016 Disney hit “Moana”, and her singing skills did not disappoint in Mean Girls songs. Kevin Gnapoor, played by Mahi Alam, my favorite character in the original film (Rajiv Surendra), lacked the original comedic effect, and I found myself left waiting for him to make jokes that never came.

Throughout the movie, Cady was seen talking on a Samsung flip phone, and Regina was seen on numerous occasions with ELF makeup products. The logos on these items were emphasized with camera angles that made it obvious this was a brand deal. During the mathletes competition, at which Lindsay Lohan made a cameo appearance as the moderator, Seatgeek was mentioned as a sponsor. The product placement in this film was very obvious and did not blend seamlessly into the narrative at all, ELF did not seem like a beauty brand that rich queen bee Regina George would use, nor are Samsung phones popular among teenagers.

The original film was filled with iconic lines, but to my disappointment, the new musical removed or adapted many of these sayings. For example, Regina’s memorable line “Get in, loser. We’re going shopping,” merely became, “Get in, loser”. Due to the original movie taking place in a different decade, cultural references mentioned in the original movie were deemed outdated and removed from the new adaptation, which is an understandable alteration so that the film appeals to the audiences of today. The new script also excluded any jokes that made fun of race, gender or sexual orientation, yet it made few new jokes to compensate for this loss.

Nothing can replace the cult classic film, and the new Mean Girls movie musical did not even come close. It suffered from a comedically lacking script, misguided casting and unremarkable songs that made it fall flat in comparison to the original masterpiece.