Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Review: Mean Girls

Mean Girls

Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan
Year: 2004

Don't tell anyone, but I kinda wanted to see Mean Girls when it came out in theaters. It looked fairly funny, and I knew it was written by Tina Fey, whose work on Saturday Night Live has generally been good. But there were other things to do and other movies to see, so I never got around to it.

Lohan's Cady Heron is going to public school for the first time after growing up in Africa. She is immediately thrust into the world of cliques; there are the varsity jocks, the Asian nerds, the promiscuous band geeks, the (insert clique here)s, and the plastics--the stuck-up bitches. Cady befriends some art dorks of indeterminate sexuality while infiltrating the plastics but finds herself rapidly becoming just the kind of stuck-up bitch she hated.

Mean Girls is actually a lot more clever than it looks, and surprisingly the humor comes from this cleverness rather than exclusively from simple pranks and gags, although there are some of those as well. Most importantly, it doesn't have most of the usual contrivances these movies seem to have. There's no secret bet to make an ugly duckling into a swan, there's no "true beauty is on the inside" sappiness, and there's no "she liked the hot guy and in the end falls for the nerd with the heart of gold" redirect, either. It's just a story of the perils of trying too hard and caring too much.

Compared to other "teen comedies," Mean Girls is brilliant. If I rated movies only against others of their genre, this would be a five-star review. I'm tempted to give it four stars since it is significantly better than similar fare. But ultimately it's not groundbreaking, it's not great art, and I'm not rushing out to buy it on DVD, so three it is.


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