Arts & Entertainment

FILM REVIEW: New ‘Mean Girls’ stays true to original while tackling societal issues

This musical remake of a 20-year-old comedy classic creates space for today’s generation.

Regina George is back and nastier than ever. The A-list clique of mean girls who run the school and make a mockery of other students and staff have come to the big screen once again. The new and revised version of the classic film “Mean Girls” is now available in select movie theatres. This version reflects the same events as the original but in a fun dramatic musical.  

A young but naïve Cady enrolls in a new school where she encounters nerds, jocks, and a group of preppy girls known as the Plastics. Long blonde hair, short pink skirts and white French tips: they are the rulers of Northshore High School. 

Cady learns that they are at the top of the social hierarchy and control what information is relayed. New students, romantic social scandals, an embarrassing past, the Plastics are there to gossip and spread the news. When one of them invites Cady into their social circle, they teach her how to become a member of the mean girls.  

“Adapt or be destroyed.” That is the mantra Cad” learns is the only thing of significance when she becomes a socialite. But to conform to one of the plastics is to submerge your own identity. Being a “Plastic” is a way of living, not just based on appearance. There are rules to be enforced and statuses to be upheld. However, when she meets social outcasts Janis and Damien, they help her infiltrate the Plastics and take down the ringleader, Regina George, a move that begins the transformation of Cady’s identity. 

The history of the film has created the push to renew this classic on the big screen once again. The original Mean Girls film was released in 2004 and starred actresses Lindsay Lohan as Cady and Rachel McAdams as Regina George. In 2016 it was announced that a musical based on the 2004 film would be adapted. After its debut in 2017 and a successful world tour, Paramount Pictures announced in 2020 that it would be creating a film version of the musical with a new cast. Actress and writer Tina Fey and creator of SNL Lorne Michaels got together to produce this adaptation. 

In this new edition of the classic film, we see a new cast and generation play the characters. Regina is played by 24-year-old Renee Rap, who has had significant music experience as an independent artist. Karen who was originally played by Amanda Seyfried is now played by Indian American actress Avantika Vandanapu. The film reflects a more detailed mirror of what this generation looks like rather than the one in 2004. 

You still get your iconic “Get in losers we’re going shopping” line, and other classics. However, the film strangely doesn’t try to stray too much from the original. At times it feels stale and predictable, but we’re quickly mesmerized by the music and song performances by the actors and actresses. 

Songs like “Someone Gets Hurt” and “World Burn” reflect the deepened emotional turmoil you feel after opening yourself up to someone and getting hurt by. Both are sung by Regina George and help emphasize the darkening rage she has growing inside her, a stark difference from the original film that helps to expand the characters more. “My Name is Regina Geroge. This girl is a fugly cow,” are the words she sings while writing in the infamous Burn Book. 

The intricate music also helps to reflect the cultural growth and differences between today’s generation and that of 2004. Topics like feminism, social awkwardness and self-isolation are addressed more directly on screen. It does so in a way that explores deeper and more intricate layers of the mental and emotional struggles teenagers experience. People embrace these topics wholeheartedly, often immersing themselves in this through a song. 

The new version tries to reclaim many of the topics and societal issues addressed in the original film. It makes comments on the damage social media has done to the youth and society’s lack of willingness to change. Young girls who grow up with unrealistic standards of beauty are doomed to create a false identity of themselves. For students with no support system, they don’t receive a proper way to manage their lives and social relationships, an important skill our generation has increasingly lost over time.  

The film is a stark contrast to the original film in many ways but is still relatively comparable. It incorporates a new soundtrack and characters to help tackle issues like gender norms and social anxiety. It’s no surprise that they focused more on the character development to reflect how these topics impact the new generation. It’s a unique take on how social influences impact us more than we’re willing to admit. Either way, the new “Mean Girls” film is worth the watch and might entertain you more than you think.  

“Mean Girls” (2024) film poster. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.