“Mean Girls”: A Grool Musical Journey Through High School Drama

"Mean Girls": A Grool Musical Journey Through High School Drama

The thought of revamping “Mean Girls,” a cult classic known for its sharp wit and iconic one-liners, might seem as improbable as Gretchen Wieners making “fetch” happen. Yet, with a fresh screenplay from the ever-talented Tina Fey and a new directorial vision, the latest iteration manages to transform the familiar saga of the Plastics into a vibrant, stand-alone spectacle.

Staying true to the original narrative, the story follows Cady Heron (played by Angourie Rice), a newcomer navigating the treacherous waters of a Midwestern high school. With the help of her new friends, Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), Cady concocts a plan to dethrone the queen bee, Regina George (Reneé Rapp), along with her loyal cohorts, Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika). However, as Cady delves deeper into the world of high school politics, she finds herself entangled in the very web of popularity she initially sought to dismantle.

Avantika plays Karen Shetty, Angourie Rice plays Cady Heron, Renee Rapp plays Regina George and Bebe Wood plays Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls

The brilliance of this update lies in Fey’s nuanced script, which delicately balances homage with innovation. The film adeptly updates many of its most memorable lines, embedding them into musical numbers or reinventing them to fit the modern dialogue without losing their original charm.

The collaboration between Fey, directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., and the cast results in a rendition that honors the original while establishing its own unique identity. It’s as if Fey had preserved alternate jokes for two decades, now repurposed to resonate with a new generation.

Teen culture has undeniably evolved since the 2004 release, moving towards greater inclusivity and acceptance, driven largely by the ethos of Gen Z. This shift is reflected in the updated script, which wisely omits some of the more controversial aspects of the original. For instance, while the decision to sideline a subplot involving a teacher-student relationship (with Jon Hamm as the ill-fated Coach Carr) is prudent, it also softens the story’s edge. The raw, unfiltered brutality of teenage conflict, a defining trait of the original “Mean Girls,” is somewhat dulled here.

On the other hand, the integration of social media into the storyline is seamless and feels entirely organic. Jayne and Perez’s direction skillfully incorporates modern-day platforms like TikTok and Instagram, effectively capturing the essence of high school life in 2024. The film’s opening scene, framed through an iPhone, immediately sets the tone for a contemporary, digital-age musical.

Renee Rapp

Despite marketing efforts to play down the musical aspect, “Mean Girls” 2024 is undoubtedly a musical, with a score by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin. While the music itself may not break new ground, numbers like “Revenge Party” stand out, offering a glittering, vibrant spectacle that encapsulates the plot’s intricacies.

Visually, the film is a treat. Jayne and Perez’s directorial choices bring a fresh dynamism to the musical genre, drawing comparisons to Rob Marshall’s “Chicago” in their adept use of cinematic techniques to enhance the storytelling.

The cast’s performances are pivotal in breathing life into this remake. Angourie Rice delivers a winning portrayal of Cady, although she may lack the fiery edge necessary for the character’s descent into the toxic allure of popularity. Reneé Rapp, on the other hand, steals the show as Regina George, channeling a fierce, unrestrained energy that captures the character’s ruthless drive and hyper-sexualized confidence. Rapp’s performance is a bold reimagining of the iconic queen bee, marked by a predatory intensity that is both captivating and terrifying.

Jaquel Spivey plays Damian, Angourie Rice plays Cady and Auli'i Cravalho plays Janis in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures.

Supporting roles also shine, particularly Auli’i Cravalho’s Janis and Jaquel Spivey’s Damian, who bring depth and charisma to their characters. Cravalho infuses Janis with a rich emotional complexity, transforming her from a mere goth stereotype into a compelling, multidimensional figure. Spivey’s Damian is both humorous and tender, adding a layer of warmth to the story’s satirical edge.

In sum, this new “Mean Girls” does justice to its predecessor while carving out its own space in the cultural landscape. It may not have been a necessary remake, but it’s undeniably an entertaining and fresh take on a beloved classic.