Twenty years ago, the cinematography scene was blessed with a contemporary masterpiece called “Mean Girls”. Was it the most profound movie ever made? No. Was it the most unique title to break onto the scene? No. But does it remain almost an entire generation’s favorite chick flick from the early 2000’s? Most likely. It’s a tough act to follow, just look at “Mean Girls 2”, the sequel almost no one wants to recognize, and a few have never heard of or forget even exists, myself included. It floundered in trying to recreate the lighting in a bottle that was the original. But here we are, twenty years later, and a new, or rather, reimagining of “Mean Girls” is back on the screen. Tina Fey is once again back to write the screenplay and even reprise her role. But will this new movie be able to outshine the original or is it bound to live in the long shadow of the first film?

The story follows Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) who is a homeschooled girl living in Kenya with her mother (Jenna Fischer), as she moves to the States and gets to experience the excruciating and exhilarating adventure of high school. She quickly learns that here there’s certain rules and a hierarchy that needs to be learned and followed to survive, and before she knows it, she’s tangled in the vicious girl group known as the Plastics, headed by the gorgeous Regina George (Reneé Rap) and her goons Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika Vandanapu). Cady finds herself in love with Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron (Christopher Briney), which quickly turns the catty friendship into in all-out battlefield, all is fair in love and war, right? With Cady’s two friends Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), they plot their revenge and chaos ensues.

Foto: Paramount Pictures

The story has the familiar beats that we fell in love with in the original with a few twists to modernize it, and mixing a few plot points. Certain characters get more screen time, more lines and overall, more love, while others lose out on it. Some lines are directly ripped from the original, and fans of the first film will be able to predict when they come. These don’t tingle the nostalgic nerves how I had hoped, instead they just feel a bit misplaced and there for the sake of nostalgia. Where the movie shines is when it tries something new, to do its own thing. Luckily, the light-hearted and fun tone is still there, this is a funny movie, with a plethora of jokes that land when they don’t rear into the nostalgic realm and instead focus on creating something new. This is where the movie excels, when it’s not constrained to its heritage, but trying to forge something new. However, the story occasionally has some strange pacing, sometimes feeling as if it wants to hurry up on to the next scene like its on a tight schedule, and with a 112-minute run-time it could have spent a few extra minutes to smooth out transitions between scenes without causing offense.

The most noticeable difference between this reimagining and the original is that this interpretation is a musical (the screenplay written from the Broadway musical version of Mean Girls). Despite the trailers not hammering this point through, the first five minutes will, it has the typical overblown choreography and musical numbers you will associate with musicals. They’re a hit and a miss, some are fun, others overstay their welcome or feel a bit forced. The cast do great vocal work and not a single beat is missed. However, the songs kind of mesh together, with none really sticking out apart from “World Burn.” It doesn’t elevate the movie in any way; however, it doesn’t detract from it either, it’s an acceptable addition. I won’t be playing these songs on repeat, but at the same time I won’t be appalled if someone puts one on during a car ride.

Foto: Paramount Pictures

The big question is: The new actresses/actors, can they live up to the original? To answer it shortly, yes, they live up to them, but don’t overshadow them, and that is the perfect balance. Each actor doesn’t feel like a carbon copy, but instead like a different approach to the characters we know. The antagonist Regina was originally a bubbly girl who used her smile to hide her wolf’s clothing, whereas Rap brings a more subtle menace to Regina, she’s not as bubbly and pretty but rather subdued and sexy, knowing fully well what she’s capable of. Cady too, Rice plays her more as a clueless and weird homeschooled girl, who often seems frightened at everything, which in my opinion works better since her transformation into a Plastic is more noticeable. Some characters suffer though as Gretchen and Karen lose some screentime and their characters have been boiled down to very simplistic character traits. Vandanapu and Wood are not to blame, but originally, Karen and Gretchen felt like they matched with Regina in both attitude and appearance, but now, the group seems so disjointed, which highlights how Gretchen and Karen feel a bit off in the trio. Nevertheless, the cast do a great job with every character, and a special shoutout to Spivey who makes Damien’s character tons more fun and adds a lot more to love about him.

Fans of the original will quickly notice that something still feels a bit off in this reimagining. I thought about it for a long time, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until it hit me, every character feels a bit flatter now, mostly due to every single character trait and flaw being spelled out for the viewer. The original wasn’t a masterpiece in “show don’t tell” either, but when the songs literally spell out the character motivations or their crippling fears, a layer is removed. Even the message of the movie is turned into a song, and the little mental exercise of figuring out the theme and analyzing characters is robbed from the viewer. It’s not detrimental, but it subtracts elements from the movie that didn’t need to be removed. Additionally, in the original Cady narrated what she experienced with inner monologues, that is missing here, and after a while you start noticing it, which again fuels this feeling of characters being more simplistic.

Verdict

The new Mean Girls is nothing if not fetch, and despite not surpassing the original, it’s still able to keep up with its tempo. The acting and singing is phenomenally done by the cast, even though some musical numbers could be shortened or cut entirely in my opinion. Although some characters feel a bit gutted in their new interpretations, it’s not disastrous by any means, but takes away some fun from the overall experience. Sure, there’s better movies out there with more defined thematic, but don’t let the opportunity to watch some enjoyable hijinks slip away. Mean Girls does not walk blindly in the shadow of the original, but proudly strides by its side, and although I would probably prefer to rewatch the original, I would gladly rewatch this one. It’s an equally fun ride, that doesn’t taint the legacy of the original, but instead brings the fun Mean Girls chaos to a new generation.

Forfatter

, , , , ,
Latest Posts from Unikum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.