Mean Girls: The Musical (2024) Movie Review – Pretty and Plastic

Pretty and Plastic

Tina Fey’s cult classic, Mean Girls is back. It’s pretty, and it feels made of plastic. The book turned film, turned Broadway musical, now has a film adaptation- of the musical adapted from the movie. Was that as dizzying to read as it was to write? The ‘new’ take delivers high-quality production and glimmering vocal performances. It gets too lost in nostalgia though, to truly capture what made the original Mean Girls so great.

A piece of the crown

The musical movie adaptation has a budget of $36 million, and seems to use every dollar on the theatrical production. The lighting feels ‘upgraded’ to the point of being its own joke, cueing songs with a purposeful lack of subtlety. The dance numbers are encompassing and often brilliantly choreographed. As far as musicals alone go, Mean Girls deserves high marks for talent and overall quality.

One particular dance number, during the Halloween house party, showcases some truly cool effects from the mob of dancers. From seeming to vibrate in place to ducking down to isolate Regina, Aaron, and Cady, it is a memorable number.

The set design around the ‘Revenge Party’ song is elaborate and undeniably fabulous. That sequence also utilizes more technically difficult camera movements that feel true to the ‘bigness’ the film is going for.

Most (if not all) of the old comedic moments from the 2004 movie are revisited. While many don’t carry the weight of the original, there are a few fresh jokes to chortle at. Many of them involve social media and most are re-workings of the old beats.

The vocal performances are another major highlight. Avantika Vandanapu kills it as Karen. Reneé Rap reprises her role as Regina from the Broadway show. While she has an exaggerated, breathy tambour, her tone is incredible. Auli’i Cravalho (voice of Moana) steals the show as Janice. However, her charm and vocal chops can’t quite save this mean girl simulacrum.

The Burn Book

Beyond the generation-defining humor, what made the original Mean Girls stand out was its pointed take on young womanhood and feminism. Its world felt lived in. The struggles felt real. The musical feels like an overexcited recap of the original. With so many jokes to retell, so many emotional story beats to hit, along with needing to make time for songs, it is hard to catch a breath and actually feel the story unfold.

2004-Cady’s old flannel and cargo pants oozed real life. However, the high fashion all over the 2024 North Shore High School takes away a sense of realism. While it does capture the gen-z, social media influencer aesthetic, it leans into the look enough to detract from the relevance of the original. 2024-Cady’s flannel and leggings feel like a costume compared to everyone else’s vibrant fashion. It even makes the wardrobe of ‘the plastics’ feel underwhelming. Given the undeniable grief younger people are forced to deal with in the social media age, it’s telling that the ultra-modern elements of this remake add nothing to the conflict.

Leaning into the glamor highlights the major issue with the film. Mean Girls is too important to receive a show-tune makeover. The original has so much to say about growing up, about being a woman, and about being a good person. The musical feels so caught up in the moments of “remember Glenn Coco?!” that there’s no time to actually feel what made the original so good. It was the emphasis on reality that made it so funny and relatable. The performances were nuanced and often played as serious. This musical has trouble establishing a sense of reality and the transitions from the ‘real world’ to the singing world are often muddled and inconsistent.

Final Thoughts

Mean Girls (2024) went all out in music and dance. Even with basically double the budget though, the remake couldn’t break into the same iconic territory as the original. Given the endless slew of middling remakes and reboots, does it even come as a surprise? It must be saying something when a remake of a 20-year-old film makes a reviewer who’s less than 30 years old feel nearly geriatric, reminiscing about the good ole days of original cinema.

What do you think? Was the new Mean Girls a glorious musical revival, or just another nostalgic, self-referential cash grab? Let us know in the comments below!


Read More: Mean Girls: The Musical Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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