2004 - PG-13 - 97 Mins.
|Director: Mark Waters
|Producer: Lorne Michaels
|Written By: Tina Fey
|Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Lacy Chabert
|Review by: Joe Rickey
A stellar cast not to mention a sharp and consistently witty script make ‘Mean Girls’ an absolute joy to watch unfold on-screen for most of its running time. It incorporates many sly touches of humanity and contains enough edgy humor to appeal to both teens and adults alike, many of which may think that their daughters are just like the ones portrayed on-screen, maybe just a little exaggerated for effect by writer Tina Fey and director Mark Waters (‘Freaky Friday’). Speaking of which, he once again is able to coax an effortlessly good performance from Lindsay Lohan in this story of a girl who has been home-schooled her entire life finally entering into a real school during high school, and quickly discovering that high school life is one of constant backstabbing and a never-ending popularity contest.
Merry Christmas indeed.
‘Mean Girls’ is a fusion of both the sweet side and the dark, sardonic side of comedy; more specifically, teen comedies. The film is a success when it sticks to the dark, sardonic material over the traditionally sweet and clichéd humor that occasionally makes an unwelcome appearance. The film is able to get the snarky humor to work because writer Fey has fashioned a screenplay adapted from the nonfiction book “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” that takes jabs at the utter inanity and, in the end, pointless nature of high school and its nature as a never-ending quest to be popular; to be considered “cool.” The film, for instance, makes light of the “clique” structure of modern high schools in a hilarious but stunningly accurate scene in which the film pans from lunch table to lunch table while describing the different cliques, or groups if you will, that are present in the school such as the “Preppies, the Asian Nerds, and the worst of them all, the Plastics, who practically define the word superficial in their rules for wearing certain clothing styles on certain days; and only on certain days; with penalties for not obeying the rules as they have been established and pre-determined. It is this sort of insight that makes the humor in ‘Mean Girls’ all the more funny and appropriate because it ties into the film’s structure much more than some films where the humor is often unrelated to the film’s actual plotline.
The film is helped further by a great cast of comedy performers. Starting at the top, Lindsay Lohan reaffirms her status as one of the best young teen actors at comedy with this film, pulling off the satiric humor in ‘Mean Girls’ just as well as she was able to sell the situational comedy of ‘Freaky Friday.’ In supporting roles as Lohan’s math teacher and principal respectively, Saturday Night Live veterans Tina Fey and Tim Meadows are equally equipped and adept at pulling off the required humor in the film. Fey though, is likely to have a much more profitable career waiting for her in writing feature films rather than acting, as while she is fine at acting, her debut script for the film is simply a revelation after having written for the aforementioned comedy sketch show for years now.
That’s not to say that the film doesn’t occasionally falter or contain a few missteps. The film makes the mistake of softening the humor and going for a pat message ending that doesn’t integrate well with what has come before it. It is something you would expect in a run-of-the-mill teen comedy, not something like ‘Mean Girls’, which had shown itself to be a cut above the rest of the flock,, so to speak. In the end though, the film is a very successful attempt at a teen comedy and well worth seeing by most everyone, even those who have long since graduated from high school.