Mean Girls (2004)
Main cast: Lindsay Lohan (Cady Heron), Rachel McAdams (Regina George), Lacey Chabert (Gretchen Wieners), Amanda Seyfried (Karen Smith), Tina Fey (Ms Norbury), Lizzy Caplan (Janis Ian), Tim Meadows (Mr Duvall), Daniel Franzese (Damian), Jonathan Bennett (Aaron Samuels), Amy Poehler (Mrs George), and Rajiv Surendra (Kevin Gnapoor)
Director: Mark S Waters
Mean Girls, for the most part, is a wickedly fun movie that satirizes the worst of high school life. It tells the story of Cady Heron, a new girl in an Illinois high school who has been home-schooled by her parents all this while in Africa. Cady is really oblivious to the norms and rules of the teenage cliques in high school, but she has to learn fast when her first day at school sees her eating lunch alone in a toilet stall. She soon finds some friends in the form of outcasts Janis Ian (from her name, you know she's supposed to be cool) and Damian. When Cady's out-of-this-world nature attracts the attention of the popular girls called the Plastics, Janis and Damian urge Cady to befriend them so that they can find ways to sabotage the Plastics that have made Damian and Janis' lives hell through a systematic network of gossip and slander. Alas, Cady soon realizes that she can fit in, she can become a Queen Bee, and when she finds herself fighting with the Plastics clique leader Regina for class hunk Aaron Samuels, Cady realizes that it is very, very easy to play dirty and hurt people.
It is a pleasure to watch this movie because the cast is wonderful. Lindsay Lohan has the role of Cady down pat - she manages to exude the right amount of naivete at first and later, when she has to be a bitch, she gets down and dirty without coming off as over-the-top. Cady is definitely someone who can be nice as well as really cruel. Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese play off Lohan very well. Even the Plastics come off well - they are stereotypes, but there are enough glimmers in their personality that can remind people in the audience of themselves or someone they know. The script skewers high school life and it doesn't hesitate to use stereotypes to do so, but these stereotypes come with enough realistic traits to engage the audience into seeing bits of themselves in these characters.
Even the teachers are amusing, such as Ms Norbury, the slightly eccentric Maths teacher, or the principal with the sexiest arms ever, Mr Duvall, who can't hide his delight when Ms Norbury informs him that she's finally getting a divorce. Regina's mother is wickedly funny as a mother who tries way too hard to be cool in order to recapture her youth. The only weak link is Aaron Samuels who is written mostly as a love interest without any attempt to define his character. Then again, he's not important as a character - he's more important as the catalyst of Cady's increasingly out-of-control actions.
For a movie that ruthlessly skewers everything from dysfunctional teachers to cliques to teenaged infatuations (and the stupid things people do in these situations) to parent-teenager relationships, Mean Girls is an enjoyable and intelligent movie that adults as well as teenagers can enjoy. My only problem with this movie is how it dumbs itself down for a too-convenient happy ending. I have nothing against happy endings, but this one in Mean Girls is too pat and too sweet, a jarring contrast to the amusing dark comedy that permeates every other aspect of this movie.
Other than that problem, Mean Girls packs a really mean punch.
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