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Mean Girls (2004)

| April 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

Mean Girls is a movie that indeed contains a lot of mean girls. That wouldn’t bother me so much if the movie didn’t possess a mean spirit as well. This is suppose to be a high school satire, a genre I deeply respect when done right – Election is one of my favorite comedies – but this one pushes the envelope right over the edge and into some very dark waters. When the climactic scene generates into a full-on riot in the school corridor, I thought that Tina Fey, the screenwriter, had taken leave of her senses.

What leads up to that violent free-for-all begins promisingly before it degenerates into chaos. The hero is Cady Heron (Lindsey Lohan), a high school kid who is entering public school for the first time. Most of her life, she has been home schooled in Africa by her anthropologist parents. Her dad gets a job in the states and she begins her Junior year at Evanston Township High School. Cady is probably the smartest person in this school, but socially, she is out of her league.

Almost immediately she makes friends with two outcasts, Janus (Lizzy Caplan) a cynical goth girl who becomes her guide into the world of who-to-know and who-to-avoid. The other is Janis’ best bud Damian (Daniel Franzese) who is tall, overweight and gay. Janus describes him as “too gay to function”. She introduces Cady to the world of the social networks within this educational wasteland and that includes informing on the various cliques, which stick tight together and rarely venture far from their tribal grounds. The school, through Cady’s eyes, isn’t far from the animal behavior she’s seen on the Serengeti.

Centrally located within all of the cliques, and ruling the social stream in general, are three girls known as The Plastics, three gorgeous girls who are rich, popular and very selective (hence the reason there are only three of them). They are led by the imperious Queen Bee Regina George (Rachel McAdams) a snobbish manipulator who can establish and invalidate a popular trend merely by batting an eyelash. Example: At one point Lacy breaks into her gym locker and cuts holes in the breasts of her tank top. Regina puts on the garment and thinks it looks good. The very next day, every girl in school is wearing a shirt with holes cut in the breasts.

Flanking Regina are who her two loyal subjects. Her second-in-command is Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) who is at Regina’s beck and call but also the target of her put-downs and verbal tirades. The other is Karen (Amanda Seyfried), my favorite character in the movie. She is the prettiest of the three but is so dimwitted that when she finds out that Cady is from Africa, she stares blankly and asks “If you’re from Africa, why are you white?”. Her ambition in life is to be a weather girl because she believes that her breasts can predict when rain is coming, but adds that this power only works when it is already raining. I hate that Seyfried’s role was so small.

These are the kinds of girls who are pretty, perfect and popular. They fuss over their looks in the mirror and pride themselves that they have defined themselves by what they wear. “My nail beds suck”, Karen fusses.

Janus gives Cady a dire warning to stay away from The Plastics, but when she gets the very rare privilege to join them at to their table at lunch, Janus figures that it might be a good opportunity to have Cady spy on them from the inside. She also figures that Cady would be perfect in a plot to destroy The Plastics by turning them against one another. But the plan backfires and soon Cady is mixed up in a lot of social drama when she begins acting like one of the girls she is suppose to be bringing down.

What follows is a battle that begins within The Plastics involving Cady attempting to sabotage them. Sometimes it works (she feeds Regina swedish power bars that are actually real chocolate) and sometimes it doesn’t (the holes in the shirt), but eventually it escalates into a nasty spite war that gets deeper, darker and more and more unpleasant. I know good satire is suppose to be a little bit off-reality but this movie goes so far off the mark that I couldn’t help but shake my head when Regina was run down by a school bus.

I did not like this film. It has been compared to Heathers which I also did not like. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I’ve been out of school too long. Maybe I am not cynical enough for a movie like Mean Girls. Maybe I’m just not “with it”. I am sure there is an audience for a movie like this. I am sure they will see something in it that I didn’t. I guess I am seeing this movie at ground level. Nearly every character is off-putting and vile. They do and say things that are awful, hateful and ugly. There’s a vinegar to this material that, I am told, is in step with the times. Having that bit of wisdom, I can only hope that the times are a-changin’ and a-changin’ pretty quick.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2004) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized