Home-schooled 15 year old Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) who was brought up in Africa by her zoologist parents, goes to high school for the first time in Chicago. She has no idea how 'wild' civilization can be, until she crosses paths with cool, calculating Regina George (Rachel McAdams), leader of the three-girl clique The Plastics, comprising Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and Karen (Amanda Seyfried). She becomes friends with social outcasts Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese), who suggest she pretends to be friends with Regina, so as to spy on her. In the meantime, Cady develops a crush on Regina's ex-boyfriend Aaron (Jonathan Bennett), who she meets in Mrs Norbury's (Tina Fey) maths class.
Review by Louise Keller:
A lively and upbeat teen comedy that grapples with social dynamics, Mean Girls is fresh, spicy and laden with plenty of tang. Emmy-winner Tina Fey, who also makes her feature film debut, has adapted Rosalind Wiseman's best-seller, Queen Bees and Wannabes, with a sharp script that crackles with truth and opens wide the treacherous and competitive world of the conniving female.
There's plenty of irony as director Mark S. Waters (Freaky Friday) compares the African jungle with life at high school. As to which is wilder and more primitive - animals fighting for survival or conniving teenage girls scoring points for social acceptance - it is not a hard call to make. We enter life at North Shore High School from Cady's point of view, and in her eyes, it is easy to interpose imagery of jungle beasts with the seemingly vulgar behaviour of her peers.
The shock and horror of discovering the anti-social, snobbish behaviour of her class mates is cushioned when gothic lesbian Janis and 'too gay to function' Damian befriend her, but it never occurs to her that their motives for her to spy on Regina and her clique, may have less than honourable motivations. The discovery of the Burn Book, which contains bitchy comments about everyone at the school, is a revelation and becomes the crucial piece of evidence that is everyone's undoing.
It's a bit like high-school Legally Blonde, as Cady joins Regina's Plastics, and learns that ponytails are only allowed once a week, pink is worn each Wednesday, clothes can't be bought without approval from the girls, and ex-boyfriends are off limits. Once accepted in the group, it's time for sabotage, and nothing is too tawdry in the pursuit of success. When your target is like 'the Barbie doll you never had', it's not impossible to convince your prey, who is keen to lose 3 lbs, that a weight-gain energy bar containing 5,000 calories a piece, is actually a calorie eater.
It's energetic, funny and the performances are highly entertaining, with Lindsay Lohan displaying plenty of star quality and a contagious likeability. The rest of the cast is excellent, and I especially liked Lizzy Caplan's Janis, whose blatant insecurity about her sexuality is the driving force behind her mission.
And just when you think that the film has lost its way and has splattered itself all over the place, along comes the resolution that pulls everything together, reminding us that hurting others doesn't make us feel better about ourselves. We are the only ones who can control how we feel, and Mean Girls offers a fun trip.
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MEAN GIRLS (M)
CAST: Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, Lizzy Caplan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Franzese, Tim Meadows, Jonathan Bennett
PRODUCER: Lorne Michaels
DIRECTOR: Mark S. Waters
SCRIPT: Tina Fey (book by Rosalind Wiseman)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daryn Okada
EDITOR: Wendy Greene Bricmont
MUSIC: Rolfe Kent
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cary White
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 24, 2004