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"Mean Girls" Musical Movie Review: Fetch or Flop?

By Mia Cestra

After a long 20 years, Mean Girls hits the big screen once more with a brand new cast taking on the same iconic roles from the 2004 original movie. Unlike the original, though, this film includes a musical element by incorporating songs from the Mean Girls Broadway adaptation. This is only the first of many differences between the original and the new, so let’s analyze what Mean Girls (2024) has to offer, and whether or not the changes made were for the better. 

From the promotional material to the movie itself, much emphasis is placed on the rich and popular Regina George, played by Reneé Rapp. Her face is plastered on nearly all advertising content, and this is no surprise. Arriving on the scene of publicity only five short years ago, Rapp gained recognition for playing Regina George in the Mean Girls Broadway musical from 2019-2020, so fans were associating Rapp with this hot-headed diva years before the project was even announced. This still raises the question: Why is it that Regina George is the face of the reimagined movie musical rather than protagonist Cady Heron? Well, Regina George has grown to become an iconic powerhouse throughout the years, representing a confident persona with blunt honesty that resonates well with Generation Z and the rise of social media. To honor that sense of blunt honesty, Regina George just seems to be more interesting than Cady Heron. 

Other talent on the scene includes Auli’i Cravalho (Janis 'Imi'ike), the voice of Moana in the Disney film of the same name, and Jaquel Spivey (Damian Hubbard). Spivey has won numerous awards associated with acting in musicals, most notably his starring role as Usher in the Broadway production A Strange Loop. A change I appreciated in Mean Girls (2024) is the diverse main cast, with Cravalho being Native Hawaiian, Spivey being African American, and  Avantika Vandanapu (Karen Shetty) being Indian. With all of this theater-trained talent working on the project, the remakes of the Broadway songs are bound to be impressive… Right? Well, sort of!

While watching the film, I found myself comparing the songs to their original counterparts:– the Broadway musical songs. In a way, this is an unfair comparison. The voices of Broadway provide a sound, energy, and boom that the big screen does not often require. Nevertheless, I felt underwhelmed by Angourie Rice’s (Cady Heron) vocal performance in songs like “Stupid With Love,” “Revenge Party,” and “What Ifs.” Her voice seems to fall flat in comparison to some of the other talent on the cast. However, I enjoyed how she portrayed the protagonist in other ways. It seems that Cady’s awkward and naive nature is much more believable in the new adaptation. After all, she is a new student from Kenya who has never set foot in a public school. I felt that Rice displayed this difficult transition well, and even her singing could be a reflection of Cady’s nature – largely unsure of herself and her place on the “social hierarchy” in public high school. Overall, if you are familiar with the Broadway adaptation, be prepared to be underwhelmed by a number of the songs in this movie – but not all of them!

Some of my favorite songs in the new film align with the talent I touched upon earlier: “Meet the Plastics” and “World Burn,” sung by Reneé Rapp, as well as “Apex Predator” sung by Auli’i Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey. The vocal performances in these songs represent the best of the cast’s musical talent. Many have criticized the choice to combine Mean Girls (2004) and the Broadway adaptation to form this new movie, but I personally enjoy Mean Girls as a musical. I feel the songs highlight the characters’ personalities and explore their relationships more deeply. We receive far more insight into characters who were not in the spotlight in the original film. Examples are Gretchen’s song “What’s Wrong With Me?” detailing her declining friendship with Regina, and Janice’s song “I’d Rather Be Me,” sung to embrace who she is without caring what those around her think. In this format, every character gets their moment on the big screen, which adds a nice touch to the storyline that makes it more emotional than the original film. The audience may find themselves relating to characters like Karen and Gretchen, rather than them solely serving as Regina’s minions. 

If you are starting to feel like you will miss Lindsay Lohan while watching the new film, fear not;, she has a cameo! During the climax of the movie, Cady is down to the wire at the mathletes competition right before prom. Lohan appears as the host of the competition, who asks the final question that prompts Cady’s signature line: “The limit does not exist!” Tina Fey also makes an appearance as Ms. Norbury for a second time, and she has not aged a bit since her role as the same character in the original Mean Girls

To further address the plot, most scenes mirror the original movie with one key difference: the use of social media and Gen Z references. Many scenes, including the musical number “Sexy,” show students at North Shore High creating TikToks and Instagram stories to weigh in on the drama. Another example is Damian’s solo performance at the Winter Talent Show, where he comedically performs a French opera version of the ICarly theme song. References like these, while cheesy, are meant to bring Mean Girls into a new generation,; though many young people still enjoy the original. So, the ultimate question remains… Was this reimagined movie musical necessary? 

Many Mean Girls fans have criticisms about the new adaptation, ranging from the music to the acting to the movie’s mere existence. However, the film wasn’t aiming to be taken too seriously. The promotional material accurately portrayed it as a lighthearted reimagination that did not aim to deliver any serious message about society… except, perhaps, stay in your own lane and don’t be a bully. Reneé Rapp said it best in an interview: “It was just silly. We made a musical of a movie that was already a musical based off of a movie. We’re not out here curing cancer, we’re just having fun.” In that respect, I believe the movie accomplished what it sought out to do, and I would recommend it not as a masterpiece of cinema, but as a stress-free, enjoyable watch. 

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