MOVIE REVIEW: Nothing mean about this ‘Mean Girls’ update

Published 10:32 am Monday, February 12, 2024

The original “Mean Girls” released in 2004 has become such a beloved teen film that it is no surprise an update would eventually find its way to the big screen.

That is the case with the latest “Mean Girls,” which borrows from that film but is mostly an adaptation of the 2018 Broadway musical which was inspired by the original material.

Sound a little convoluted? Sure. But the bottom line is this remake works, largely due to the inclusion of some snappy musical numbers and an absolute star-making performance from one of the many talented cast members.

The basic plot of “Mean Girls” remains the same – Cady (Angourie Rice) returns from Kenya to the United States with her mom (Jenna Fischer) and goes from being home-schooled to being thrust right into the middle of the very intense world of North Shore High School.

Cady is befriended by Janis (Auliʻi Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), who introduce her to the school’s various cliques. The most popular are known as the Plastics, led by the school’s most popular female, Regina (Renee Rapp).

When Regina’s group takes interest in Cady, she reluctantly opts to be a part of their world. But as her popularity rises, and she develops a crush on classmate Aaron (Christopher Briney), Cady discovers that her soaring popularity comes with a heavy price.

The film is once again written by Tina Fey, who again has penned a witty screenplay that is very observant about teen life. It’s a story that is smart and funny but not pandering to its subject matter.

Directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. present many of the familiar bells and whistles from the original, with some fun callbacks and a few new surprises.

While “Mean Girls” relies some on nostalgia what sets it apart is two major factors.

The first are some fantastic music numbers – led by “Sexy” sung by fellow Plastic Karen (Avantika). It’s a lively music number involving Halloween that incorporates Tik-Tok and captures a fun-loving spirit that embodies the film.

But the biggest addition to this “Mean Girls” is Rapp reprising the role she played on Broadway. Rapp is an absolute star, exuding that “it” factor from the moment she arrives on screen. She just lights up every scene she is in, demanding the audience pay attention to her. It’s the kind of performance that signals the arrival of a bright new talent.

Rapp alone makes “Mean Girls” worth the price of admission, but fortunately the film has even more to offer – making it a rare remake that manages to balance the nostalgia factor while providing a fresh spin on familiar material.

— Grade: B+. Reviewed by Micheal Compton, Bowling Green Daily News.