Get in loser! We’re reviewing Mean Girls (2024)!
If you aren’t familiar with Mean Girls (2024), it is a movie adaptation of the stage show that is based on the iconic 2000s film of the same name. This is an adaptation that has taken the world, or at the very least the world of TikTok, by storm (and not necessarily for good reasons). As a fan of both the original Mean Girls movie and the musical I felt it necessary to see it for myself and judge whether it was as absolutely awful as social media would have you believe. This is what I thought:
It was FUN!
It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t without problems, but it was so much fun.
Let’s first address the treble clef shaped elephant in the room, the singing. I think a majority of the dislike towards this film stems from its musical nature. The film wasn’t explicitly marketed as a musical adaptation, leading to a confusion surrounding the film as many thought it was simply a remake of the original (and an unnecessary remake at that). As a result many unsuspecting audience members have shared their surprise at the musical nature of the film. While the marketing tactic may have been to draw more audience members in by omitting this fact, I think it would have benefited greatly from outrightly embracing its musical status. Musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay!
This leads me onto my second problem with the film. It seems torn between being a musical and being a movie, scared to completely embrace its musical status, and in doing so it fails both musical-loving and musical-hating demographics. This is something not only shown in its marketing, but also through the songs. The movie decided to cut a lot of the songs that feature in the stage show and while as a fan of the musical itself I mourned the loss of some of my favourite numbers, I thought it actually worked quite perfectly in terms of pacing. However, my main issue with the songs in the film is that they were greatly changed. They had, unfortunately, been pop-ified, perhaps with the intention of appealing to more mainstream audiences. With the beats of some songs completely changed from percussion to electronic beats and the tempo of others drastically slowed, it seemed that the songs had lost the sparkle that had led to them being enjoyed by many in the first place.
This is not to say that the songs were all inherently bad (although the original Stupid with Love does arguably deserve a respectful minute of silence after its massacre). Reneé Rapp and Auil’i Cravalho both offered outstanding performances. World Burn sent chills down my spine and Someone Gets Hurt, while different to the version of it I know so well, had me equally entranced. Avantika Vandanapu’s rendition of Sexy took blasting trashy pop literally – but this change worked perfectly in the setting of the halloween party! However, I do think such stark changes are at the heart of this film’s main problem. It fails to fully commit to being a musical and in that failure it gets lost. It seems as though the film itself isn’t too sure what it wants to be and who it’s target audience is.
I could easily nitpick this film more. I could talk all day about Regina’s styling, the questionable framing choices of certain shots, and the hilariously obvious e.l.f Cosmetics and Samsung flip-phone product placements. But why should I? Sure if you want to then go ahead! I’m not stopping you! On another day I would go all in. But I think there’s something to be said for a film that is simply fun. Mean Girls (2024) is a little bit goofy and a little bit cringe at times. Some singers are stronger than others and some songs don’t quite live up to their onstage predecessors. But there was also a lot I liked about it. It was fresh, colourful and it didn’t seem to take itself too seriously. And as I was sitting in a fully booked cinema with my friends, surrounded by various demographics, it wasn’t the mise-en-scène or the cinematography that struck me. It was the fact that this film had brought so many people together. And as the cinema laughed and awww-d and then laughed at the awww-ing we were brought together in a way that makes you think wow! I am just so lucky to be sitting here, having a laugh with my friends, and experiencing a shared moment of joy.
Sometimes films that are considered ‘bad’ are actually still good, and Mean Girls (2024) definitely is. So if you want a laugh I say watch it! Life is too short to only allow yourself to find fun in perfect Oscar-worthy films.