Mean Girls (2024) | Review by: Luke Elisio
Consider the following review as the official entry in the Burn Book for the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Mean Girls.”
Simply put, this is not a real movie. It’s clear to see how fun this show would be in the setting of live theatre, but this big screen adaptation lacks any theatricality of the production it’s based on or the charm and emotional heft that the original 2004 movie had. Honestly, Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” music video has more theatricality and cinematic awe than this. “Mean Girls” is the one that looks like a music video. At times it even gives the same energy as a bad episode of “Glee.” The filmmakers had all the resources and freedom that a film budget and set allow and yet the movie fails to elevate the material into anything resembling sensation. The musical numbers have no fanfare and the performances feel inorganic even for a musical. There isn’t any spectacle to them and they’re all staged / choreographed in the same boring way. The severe lack of interesting or dynamic choreography is shocking. Many of the musical numbers are simply the actors sitting, then standing, then sitting again. Furthermore, let it be known that running does not count as choreography.
The modernity of the setting, the hollow line reading of iconic quotes, the uninspired wardrobe….this movie musical has all the razzle dazzle of a middle school production. It’s just so…2024. The present-day slang, styling and trends are more of a hindrance to “Mean Girls” rather than a fun new twist. Part of the appeal of the Plastics, their world, their aesthetic and vernacular is how 2000s it is. This movie would have been much more playful and enjoyable if it had been set in the 2000s. Watching the Plastics do everything from make TikToks, to recommend Spotify threads, to perform musical numbers on Instagram Live is borderline soul-shattering. Watching this version of “Mean Girls” is like watching a TikTok meme’d recap of the original movie. If audiences wanted to do that, they’d do so on TikTok or YouTube. Let movies be MOVIES! Modern filmmakers, you don’t need to include your characters being on social media as a filmmaking technique! It’s ok, we promise! It always looks cheap and will ultimately be super dated. Which doesn’t make a movie timeless (as good ones are). It makes it like the rest of internet content: funny for a short time than forgettable and cringey.
Returning cast members Tina Fey and Tim Meadows are expectedly wonderful. They step back into the characters with ease, delivering lines both classic and new with just as much impact as 20 years ago. The new cast is much more of a let down. It’s as though they’re hoping our knowledge of these beloved characters makes up for their lack of crafting a well-rounded portrayal. Often famous lines are repeated with a disappointing blandness, with the cast clearly hoping that just repeating these quotes is enough to make people laugh as they did once before. However, the cast doesn’t understand why these lines are funny or smart. They’re just parroting them back. Poor Reneé Rapp, who gives her all as Regina George, deserves to have her fabulous voice shine in something with much more fierce music and production value.
A lacklustre adaptation that never meets the high bar set by its source material, “Mean Girls” is far from fetch. It definitely can’t sit with us.
Review by: Luke Elisio