Sometimes there are movies that no matter how many great reviews I read, no matter how many people whose opinion I trust talk it up, no matter how many reasons I have to watch it, for some reason, I just never do. For a decade now, I’ve been reading great reviews for Mean Girls and having people’s whose opinion I trust tell me I need to see Mean Girls. So, it may have taken ten years, but I finally saw Mean Girls.
After being home schooled by her anthropologist parents in the wilds of Africa, 16 year old Cady (Lindsay Lohan) enters a regular school for the first time in her life. She quickly makes friends with Lizzy Caplan as gothy, weird chick Janis, and fabulous gay guy, Daniel Fransese as Damien. Janis and Damien soon realise they can use Cady’s hotness to infiltrate the Plastics, a clique of hotties made up of Gretchen (Lacey Chabert), Karen (Amanda Seyfried) and their leader, Regina (Rachel McAdams).
The deeper Cady’s infiltration of the Plastics becomes, the less she’s playing a role. Becoming more and more an actual Plastic, it’s only a matter of time until her double life is exposed, hurting people on both sides. Then it’s some pretty typical high school, coming of age, learning of lessons type stuff.
Written by Tina Fey, it’s no surprise that Mean Girls is a little smarter than your average high school, coming of age, learning of lessons type stuff. But only marginally. And sometimes, those attempts to be something more are its biggest downfall. A scene where Cady compares the students to animals at a waterhole in Africa is kind of clever, I guess. But in execution, it’s a little too obvious, a little too corny, a little too clever for clever’s sake.
The biggest surprise though with Mean Girls is how good Lohan is. I kind of knew it was coming, because Mean Girls is the number one sited movie whenever anyone talks about the downfall of Lohan. And now I know that all of those comments I’ve heard over the years are totally spot on. She is really great in this, really likeable and does a great job of selling what could have been a pretty one note, clichéd character.
Speaking of one note, clichéd characters, the adults of Mean Girls are all kind of unnecessary and one dimensional. Tina Fey as the cool teacher who can see through the bull shit. Amy Pohler as the sad and aging mother, trying to live through her plastic daughter. Tim Meadows as the put upon principal. None of them ever contribute much, but they’re not a negative either. They’re just, sort of, there.
So, after 10 years of praise, Mean Girls had some pretty high expectations to live up to. It didn’t quite get there, but I can understand the love so many people seem to have for this movie. It’s one of those rare movies where the total is a little more than the sum of its parts. The story hits all the beats you expect it to at the times to expect them to happen. But Fey’s script and the performances make up for that.