Mean Girls

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PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Cady Heron is a 16-year-old homeschooled daughter of zoologist parents. They have returned to the United States after a 12-year research trip in Africa, settling in Evanston, Illinois and having Cady attend public school for the first time. New classmates Janis and Damian warn Cady to avoid the school’s most exclusive clique, the Plastics, who are led by queen bee Regina George. The Plastics take an interest in Cady, however, and start to invite her to sit with them at lunch. Seeing that Cady is slowly becoming one of The Plastics, Janis hatches a plan of revenge against Regina, using Cady as the infiltrator.

Cady soon learns about Regina’s “Burn Book”, a notebook filled with rumors, secrets, and gossip about the other girls and some teachers. Cady also falls in love with Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels, whom a jealous Regina steals back at a Halloween party. Cady continues with Janis’s plan to cut off Regina’s “resources”, which involve separating her from Aaron; tricking her into eating nutrition bars that make her gain weight; and turning Regina’s fellow Plastics – insecure rich girl Gretchen Wieners and sweet but ditzy Karen Smith – against her. In the process, Cady unwittingly remakes herself in Regina’s image, becoming spiteful, superficial, and abandons Janis and Damian.

Cady hosts a party at her own house one weekend while her parents are away. While intended to be a small get-together, a large number of people show up. While waiting for Aaron to show up, Cady drinks too much punch before finally finding him. She explains to him how she was purposefully failing math just so she could have an excuse just to talk to him, but this only angers Aaron, saying that Cady’s no better than Regina. In a moment of panic, Cady vomits on Aaron due to the excessive amount of punch she had earlier. While chasing after an infuriated Aaron, Janis and Damian show up, who are upset that Cady lied to them about not being able to attend Janis’s art show that day. Cady tries to explain her motives, but Janis states that Cady has become worse than the Plastics by hiding a spiteful personality behind her cute and innocent facade.

When Regina is finally made aware of Cady’s treachery, she responds by spreading around the contents of her Burn Book, quickly inciting a riot. To avoid suspicion, Regina inserts a fake libel of herself in the book in order to blame the only female students not mentioned in the book, The Plastics. Principal Ron Duvall soon quells the riot, and ends up sending all the girls in the school to gather in the auditorium. Math teacher Sharon Norbury, whom the Burn Book slandered as a drug dealer, makes the girls mentioned in the book fess up to the rumors and apologize to the other students and teachers. When Janis’s turn comes, she confesses her plan to destroy Regina with Cady’s help and openly mocks Regina with the support of the entire school. Pursued by an apologetic Cady, Regina storms out and gets hit by a school bus, breaking her spine.

Without any friends, shunned by Aaron, and distrusted by everyone, Cady takes full blame for the Burn Book. Her guilt soon dissolves and she returns to her old personality. As part of her punishment for lying and failing Norbury’s class, she joins the Mathletes in their competition. There, while competing against an unattractive girl, Cady realizes that mocking the girl’s appearance would not stop the girl from beating her. She then realizes that the best thing to do is just solve the problem in front of you and ends up winning the competition after her opponent answers incorrectly. At the Spring Fling dance, Cady is elected Queen, but declares that all her classmates are wonderful in their own way, whereupon she breaks her plastic tiara and distributes the pieces. Cady makes amends with Janis and Damian, reconciles with Aaron, and reaches a truce with the Plastics.

By the start of the new school year, the Plastics have disbanded. Regina joins the lacrosse team, Karen becomes the school weather reporter, and Gretchen joins the “Cool Asians”. Aaron graduates from high school and attends Northwestern University, Janis and Kevin Gnapoor begin dating, and Cady declares that she is now herself. Regina walks past Cady and smiles, showing that they made peace with each other. Damian witnesses the new “Junior Plastics” walking by, but they are immediately hit by a bus. It turns out, however, that this was only a humorous figment of Cady’s imagination.

REVIEW:

Anyone that went to high school or junior high (middle school), is more than aware of how clicks and factions can form and, more or less, live to torture and abuse those that aren’t in said group. Mean Girls was obviously made to remind us of those days, show us how ridiculous these groups were, and showcase a then super cute Lindsey Lohan (who was experiencing her career heading upwards at this time).

What is this about?

After growing up abroad, brainy teen Cady Heron moves to Chicago and haphazardly joins her new high school’s most powerful clique. But there’s hell to pay when the ex-boyfriend of the clique’s menacing leader shows interest in being Cady’s guy.

What did I like?

Lilo. With all her personal problems, we have forgotten that Lindsey is actually a capable actress. The transformation she goes through from awkward girl who is setting foot into school for the first time in her life to a popular girl who dethrones the “queen bee” (not intentionally), and then back down to the awkward girl, but still with the popular girl look. Lohan manages to subtly change her personality so well that you don’t even notice it until a big moment happens and you see that she has a different look and attitude about her.

Plastics. A group of girls who talk about everyone, spread gossip, and demean the rest of the school in every way, including the teachers, run things, and they do so while looking hot. This sounds very similar to Jawbreaker, but they don’t kill the leader. Instead, these girls are very flawed. For instance, Rachel McAdams’ character wants to lose 3 lbs, Amanda Seyfried is an airhead, and Lacey Chabert is insecure. These character flaws make them more relatable, especially for the alleged antagonists of the film.

Debut. Making her big screen debut as a writer, Tina Fey knocked it out of the ballpark with this one. Not only is it apparent that Fey is a brilliant comedy writer (look how Saturday Night Live dropped in quality after she left), but she also penned a film that was female centric. Take notice of how Lohan’s character is not a slut, but just your average high school girl who has a crush on a guy. Also, she has a brain, one that is very good in math, of all subjects. Also, Fey’s character is one that is a strong female character, as shown in the junior girls assembly that she takes over.

What didn’t I like?

Burn book. For such a major plot device, the burn book, which is filled all types of rumors and other mean-spirited things, is sort of forgotten until Rachel McAdams’ character pulls it out and decided to use it in a plot to get revenge on her “friends”. In high school, I wasn’t popular enough to even be mention in a book like this, as far I know, but I still feel uncomfortable that such a book exists. Tine Fey has been quoted as saying that she pulled in many of her high school experiences for this, as well as the book on which this is based, so I wonder whether it was her or the author that has issues with said book. That point aside, this book should have been a major part of the film, in my opinion, but instead, it is just a plot device that appears when it is convenient.

Not Meg. Lacey Chabert is one of those actresses that has been around for a while, but you don’t really know why she hasn’t become a bigger star. Chabert’s insecure character, Gretchen, doesn’t really have anything to do but smile and look pretty, whereas Seyfried and McAdams have quirks that make them memorable. This is not to say that Chabert gives a bad performance, but rather than her character isn’t as interesting as her friends are.

Grounded. How can you be a parent and now know the rules of being grounded? That’s exactly what happens when the father of Lindsey Lohan’s character grounds her and then lets her go out. Questioned by his wife about it, he says, “is she not supposed to go out when she’s grounded,” or something to that effect. Now, this is a guy who looks like he probably grew up in the 50s or 60s, and I would imagine he was grounded his fair share of times or has friends that were. So, I ask again, how do you not know the rules of being grounded? This seemed a little too convenient for Lohan’s character to get out of the house with no trouble.

Mean Girls is one of those films that everyone knows, but it still doesn’t get the respect it deserves, I feel. This little teen comedy was a nice starring vehicle that helped Lindsey Lohan’s career, introduced us to Amanda Seyfried, and furthered the career of Rachael McAdams (she followed this up with The Notebook). Do I recommend this film? Yes, very much so. A lighthearted laugh is something we take for granted and the film delivers many of them.

4 out of 5 stars

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