Mean Girls

2004Teen Comedy ∙ 1h 37min

I liked it better when it was called Heathers. I don’t know if this was billed as a remake of that film (or was some ”reinterpretation” of a Shakespeare play), but somebody somewhere should have gotten sued over this one. It’s missing everything but the dark, biting edge that the original had. Instead of double gay homicide, we have the threat of making a girl’s face smell like foot powder. Boy those girls are mean! Rather than being an apocalyptic visage of high school life and the strata of society, the decay of social mores and the evilness of corporate America, we have a fluffy teenage self-discovery story with the worst retread of a plot there is. It’s the ”too big for your britches” storyline — the other 80s standby plot often perpetrated by Patrick Dempsey.

It’s been trotted out throughout the 90s and early 2000s, but was thought to be extinct with the spate of song-titled movies starring the teen queen of the moment. It’s the plot where the smart, dorky crew makes some wacky plan to infiltrate the popular crowd. They always elect the member with the most potential, who inevitably ends up becoming popular and beautiful and falling for the glamour of the popular group she was nominated to dismantle. Then, right at the end of the second act she gets the ”too big for your britches” speech from her old friends whom she’s left in the dust for her new, fake friends. It is at this point she gets super-defensive but ultimately realizes, after the ultimate fall from grace, that her original crew are her true friends. To illustrate the point of diverging lives we are always let in on the secret the her best friend in her original group used to be best friends with the queen of the popular crowd back before they had cognitive decision making skills.

This plot is solid, and shows kids the meaning of friendship and loyalty. It’s also moldy and horribly altruistic. I guess teen movies just aren’t edgy anymore. Where’s the exploding Christian Slater? Who’s gleaming that cube? Who’s hiding coke in an abandoned chimney in New Jersey (sorry, had to get a Firstborn reference in one of these reviews)? Oh, and despite her “underagedness,” Lindsey Lohan looks much better with a little weight on her–but the difference is shocking. This thing is maddeningly predictable and unoriginal. Even if you haven’t seen Heathers, you’ll feel like you’ve seen it before. Yeah, yeah, high school is sucky and the popular kids will always be popular and the followers will always be followers. But when given the choice, most kids would jump off the dork ship in two seconds flat to join the cool crowd. Some lesson. I should stop before someone figures out I shouldn’t be reviewing this movie…