Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since Mean Girls first hit theaters and dazzled us with fetch jokes and cutthroat high school politics? That 2004 comedy starring Lindsay Lohan became an instant classic with its biting satire of teen culture. But Tina Fey wasn’t done with her story of the Plastics and their prey just yet. In 2018, Mean Girls debuted as a Broadway musical, reworking the material with upbeat song and dance numbers.
Now, the Mean Girls universe expands again with a new movie musical adaptation directed by first-timers Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. This 2024 film follows Cady Heron as she navigates the shark-infested waters of North Shore High School’s clique system and goes to war with queen bee Regina George. The story hits all the familiar beats, while the script, also by Fey, updates the humor for Gen Z.
Reviews so far have been mixed but mostly positive. While the cast charms and musical numbers energize, the prevailing take seems to be that this remix struggles to justify its own existence. Though an enjoyable ride, it never reaches the heights of Fey’s original masterpiece. For fans of the Broadway show or just the perpetually “on Wednesdays we wear pink” culture, it may satisfy. But for many, this glossy remake will seem like just a pale echo of its predecessor’s greatness.
Like Africa’s Savanna, North Shore High is a Brutal Jungle
The story of Mean Girls in 2024 hews closely to the original 2004 movie that solidified Lindsay Lohan as a star and gave us jokes for life.
After being homeschooled in Kenya by her zoologist parents, Cady Heron moves back to the States and experiences major culture shock at North Shore High School. She quickly learns about the school’s various animal species, AKA cliques. Two outsiders, punky Janis and flamboyant Damian, give Cady the lowdown on the most vicious pack – The Plastics, led by queen bee Regina George. Think a blonde hyena in heels.
Janis nurses a grudge against Regina for spreading rumors back in middle school, so she convinces Cady to infiltrate The Plastics’ inner circle. Cady gets invited to sit with Regina, wannabe sidekick Gretchen, and sweetly spacey Karen at lunch. She starts spying for Janis and Damian, learning about Regina’s Burn Book where she savagely drags everyone.
But things get messy when Cady develops a crush on a cute classmate named Aaron, only to find out he’s Regina’s ex-boyfriend. Regina reclaims Aaron at a Halloween party just to assert her dominance over Cady.
After this betrayal, Janis, Damian, and Cady launch their revenge plot. They spread fake rumors about Regina through the Burn Book and try turning the school against her. But Cady’s moral compass soon spins out of control. In taking down the queen bee, she becomes just as nasty and duplicitous as Regina.
Cady reaches her breaking point at the Mathletes competition. She sabotages her teammates to guarantee her own victory and undermine Regina. But she’s exposed thanks to Ms. Norbury, who reveals the Burn Book to the whole school.
With the truth out, Cady comes clean about her misdeeds. She reconciles with Janis and Damian and makes amends with Regina too. The Plastics finally disband, as Cady realizes being herself is more important than being popular. Just like on the savanna, the weak creatures of North Shore learn to band together against the predators.
Explore Pete Davidson’s Latest Comedy Special: “Dive into the world of Pete Davidson’s unique humor and raw vulnerability. Check out our Pete Davidson: Turbo Fonzarelli Netflix Review for an in-depth look at his latest stand-up special.”
A Mixed Bag of Performances From Fresh and Familiar Faces
The success of any Mean Girls iteration lives and dies on the strength of its cast. While this 2024 film musical has its bright spots, it lacks the dynamite star power of the 2004 movie.
In the lead role of Cady Heron, Angourie Rice (Mare of Easttown) is plenty likable with her girl-next-door vibe. But she lacks the irresistible charisma of Lindsay Lohan, making Cady’s transition from naive to nasty less believable. Still, her vocals impress during musical numbers.
Stealing the show is Broadway veteran Reneé Rapp as queen bee Regina George. With a breathy, seductive voice reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, Rapp makes the role her own. She’s less icy than Rachel McAdams’ take, leaning into an over-the-top, hyper-sexualized villainy. Rapp delivers showstopping vocals on songs like “Apex Predator.”
The real scene-stealer though is Auliʻi Cravalho (Moana) as outcast Janis. With powerhouse pipes and presence for days, Cravalho gives Janis a wounded depth that makes you root for her. Her emotional ballad “I’d Rather Be Me” highlights Cravalho’s vocal range and star quality.
As Janis’ sidekick Damian, Jaquel Spivey of Broadway’s A Strange Loop brings heart and sass to the “almost too gay to function” character. His hilarious delivery and killer side-eye earn big laughs.
Less memorable are Bebe Wood as lapdog Gretchen and Avantika as ditz Karen. Wood lacks the insecure neuroses that made Lacey Chabert so funny. As Karen, Avantika overacts and blinks vacantly rather than channeling Amanda Seyfried’s spacey charm.
Most of the adults amount to wasted talent, from Jon Hamm as a gym teacher to Busy Philipps as a mom trying too hard to be “#aginghotly.” But Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprise their teacher roles genially.
While the new ensemble boasts serious musical chops, it can’t compete with the first film’s iconic star turns. But Rapp and Cravalho give two of the remake’s strongest performances, leaving a lasting impression.
“Discover the Emerging Political Voices of Gen Z in ‘Girls State'”: Step into the world of young female leaders. Read our in-depth review of ‘Girls State’, a documentary that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Girls State program, capturing the aspirations, debates, and challenges faced by politically-minded teen girls in a mock government setting.
Slick Style Can’t Capture Original’s Heart
Helmed by directing partners Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., this Mean Girls musical displays their music video roots in its hyper-stylized aesthetic. The result is a glossy update that notably lacks the sincerity of Mark Waters’ 2004 teen classic.
Jayne and Perez fill the screen with visual razzle-dazzle, from social media montages to elaborate musical numbers staged as if on a meta-high school Broadway. But while the direction is energetic, it feels more calculated than inspired. The over-produced musical sequences don’t organically emerge from story and characters. And the reliance on phone screens as framing devices wears thin quickly.
On the plus side, the directors weave modern touches like TikTok videos and Instagram posts seamlessly into the narrative. Their dynamic camerawork and pops of color enliven the production design. But the style lacks a personal stamp. The original film’s moments of raw vulnerability and empathy are absent here.
The musical numbers showcase the cast’s pipes but suffer from distractingly generic choreography. The pop soundtrack, while radio-ready, feels over-processed and autotuned within an inch of its life. Several songs lose impact amidst the sonic chaos.
While this Mean Girls remix offers visual razzle-dazzle, its digital polish can’t recapture the humanity of its predecessor. The 2004 comedy wrung laughs from the pathos of surviving high school hell. This slick adaptation misses those poignant grace notes in favor of a hard sell musical spectacle. The result is a technically adept but emotionally hollow time.
Fey’s Script Sticks to What Works, But Lacks Bite
Leave it to Tina Fey to try updating her own masterpiece. The 2024 Mean Girls script comes courtesy of Fey, building off her 2004 original screenplay and subsequent Broadway book. The story hits the same narrative beats while tweaking the humor for today’s teens. But in playing it safer, this version loses the subversive magic of Fey’s earlier work.
As before, Cady navigates high school clique politics, befriending artsy outsiders Janis and Damian. Their scheme to infiltrate popular girl squad The Plastics still leads to sabotage and life lessons learned. Fey peppers the script with solid zingers, but they lack the quotable snap of her first draft.
Certain iconic lines now live on only as sly musical references, like Regina George’s toxic mantra “You can’t sit with us!” becoming an anthem. Fey cuts or softens other problematic gags to reflect changing times. While likely the right call, it does sand down the story’s satirical bite. The Plastics’ bullying feels more tame, undercutting the stakes.
That said, Fey smoothly incorporates contemporary updates like social media drama and Gen Z lingo. The Burn Book particularly translates well to the digital age. But side characters feel more thinly sketched, as if Fey is straining to find new dimensions.
Ultimately, Fey’s script echoes too much of her brilliant source material without recapturing its magic. While the witty dialogue still zings, the characters lack the depth that made the 2004 film feel like a teen movie game-changer. It’s a competent but creatively conservative remix that plays things a little too safe.
The Music Mix: More Peppy Than Memorable
While the musical numbers add energy, the songs themselves lack the hooks to stick with you post-credits. The soundtrack comes courtesy of Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond, with lyrics by Broadway alum Nell Benjamin.
The composition veers pop, but in a familiar, almost generic way. The big ensemble songs like “A Cautionary Tale” and “Someone Gets Hurt” have an upbeat pep that pairs well with the kinetic direction. Yet none emerge as distinct earworms.
Some songs act more as character highlights than narrative drivers. As Janis, Auliʻi Cravalho gets to belt the emotional ballad “I’d Rather Be Me.” And Reneé Rapp adds diva flair to Regina’s numbers like “Hot” and “World Burn.”
The most instant crowd-pleaser is “Revenge Party,” an exuberant pop banger in sparkles and pastels as Janis, Damian, and Cady plot against Regina. Its infectious energy translates visually too. But its tone may clash with the story’s themes.
While the music adds propulsive fun, the songs won’t play on repeat in your head after. The score lacks the personality of the film’s characters. Richmond’s compositions feel pretty but homogenized, diluted of any edge. And Benjamin’s lyrics rarely stand out beyond advancing the plot.
This capable soundtrack serves its purpose for the movie musical format. But compared to the 2004 comedy’s iconic tracks, these tunes fade from memory. It’s telling that the most memorable musical moment comes from a familiar tune: “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Falls Short of the 2004 Gold Standard
It’s hard to justify this new Mean Girls’ existence when the 2004 original remains so beloved. This remix hews so close to the first movie that it often feels like a paler imitation.
While the cast tries hard, they lack the dynamite chemistry between Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lizzy Caplan. Their iconic performances helped define the film’s lasting appeal. This musical can’t recapture that magic.
The remake also loses some sophistication in its exploration of teen girl politics. The original struck a masterful balance between funny and cutting in depicting the dark arts of social sabotage. This version smoothes over thefemale antagonism into more easily digestible empowerment messaging.
Director Mark Waters wrung clever laughs from Cady’s gradual corruption, making it painfully relatable. Here, her descent into villainy happens abruptly. The result is less nuance and character development.
Crucially, this Mean Girls misses the little details that made its predecessor so quotable. Gone are moments like Regina getting hit by a bus, Karen’s psychic ESPN, Damian’s “She doesn’t even go here!” cry. The absence of these vital scenes and lines is deeply felt.
While this faithful remix has its charms, it’s missing the incisive cultural commentary and many signature elements that made Mean Girls an instant classic. Set against that high bar, this musical adaptation can’t help but feel redundant. It’s an entertaining rehash, but doesn’t justify its own existence. In the end, the 2004 comedy remains the “fetch” version we’ll keep revisiting.
More Candy Than Bite, But Still Sweet Fun
In the end, this remake offers a sugary if insubstantial musical confection that can’t eclipse our nostalgia for the 2004 comedy classic. While entertaining, it struggles to justify its existence beside that earlier masterpiece.
The cast charms and flashy song and dance numbers provide giddy fun. Clever modernizations like social media keep the story current. But the film lacks the satirical bite and unforgettable humor that made Mean Girls iconic. The glossy sheen of this remake steals focus from the complex emotional lives of teen girls.
Yet despite its flaws, the spirit of Cady, Regina and Janis still shines through. Even a diluted version of Mean Girls carries an undeniable joy. For fans of the Broadway musical eager to see their favorite characters in action, this pop spectacle should satisfy.
On its own merits, the 2024 movie musical stands as a playful if largely unnecessary remix. Measured against the brilliant 2004 comedy, it can’t help but pale in comparison. But it remains a pleasantly frothy experience nonetheless. This new Mean Girls may be less fetch, but it’s still plenty fun.
While this 2024 Mean Girls remix offers some frothy fun courtesy of a charismatic cast and flashy musical numbers, it's an ultimately unnecessary remake that lacks the magic of Tina Fey's 2004 masterpiece. The film struggles to justify its own existence beside that cultural touchstone.
- Energetic musical numbers and performances
- Some clever humor and witty dialogue
- Integrates social media well into storyline
- Visual style is slick and colorful
- Cast brings talent, especially Rapp and Cravalho
- Falls short of brilliant 2004 original film
- Lacks bite and satirical edge of first movie
- Story and characters feel less nuanced
- Songs are catchy but forgettable
- Overproduced musical style lacks organic feel