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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Don’t be fooled by the pink: ‘Mean Girls’ falls just short of being fetch

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Shavonne Chin

Every school has its rules. And for North Shore High School, they’ve long revolved around mathletes, pink and cheese fries. But now almost 20 years after our first introduction to The Plastics, we’ve entered into a new era of “Mean Girls.”

“Mean Girls” is a painful 2024 adaptation of the smash-success Broadway musical — that was based on the original 2004 film. With so much source material in its history, “Mean Girls” had a lot to live up to before it could be officially labeled as “grool.” So the question bares, does it?

The short answer is no. It would be nearly impossible to exist in the current digital age and not have seen the countless videos of awkward camera angles, poor costume choices and groaning audiences as every new song started. But as a long-time fan of both the original movie and the musical, my crosses to bear lie elsewhere. 

Casting is one of the most important aspects of a film, more so in musicals than any other genre. It’s much easier to find an actor who can give a good dramatic performance than it is to find someone who can carry the energy of a musical. And while “Mean Girls” occasionally knocks it out of the park, several of the leads stumble like baby deers along the way.

Angourie Rice, the actress behind our newest Cady Heron, was rather regrettably the weakest performer of the whole movie. Her voice is painfully monotone, turning the gleeful “Stupid With Love” — a song about Cady discovering she’s filled with “calculust” for Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney) — into a low-energy, autotuned number that sounds more like royalty-free music than a beloved Broadway number.

The production choices on the vast majority of the songs — way over-popified versions of Broadway songs as a way to “appeal” to a general audience — kill a lot of what makes “Mean Girls: The Musical” so good. 

The campy, over-the-top theatrics of the musical are what makes The Plastics belting in the cafeteria work. But when you have a film that cuts over half of the original songs and an Aaron who never once sings, it makes the audience wonder if the film knows it’s actually supposed to be a musical.

“Mean Girls” does not go without its bright spots. Auli’i Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey shine as Janis ‘Imi’ike and Damian Hubbard. They bring the perfect “too-cool-for-school” and “too-gay-to-function” vibes to their beloved characters, and their musical backgrounds elevate their performances into what the movie should’ve been the whole time. And while it’s a shame that all of Spivey’s solo songs were cut in favor of dialogue, Damian’s iconic one-liners remain a bright nod to the original film.

There is no doubt, however, that the star of the film is Reneé Rapp. While the actress- turned-singer is mostly known now for her music career and stint on “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” Rapp actually played the iconic Regina George on Broadway when the original actress left the production.

And time has only proven to have made Rapp’s Regina even stronger. Her vocals are somehow even more impeccable, showing how strong a film musical can be when actors with the proper training are given the chance to do what they know best. Perhaps it’s because of the year she spent playing her, or maybe it’s Rapp’s now-famous lack of filter, but she manages to play the perfect mean girl without sliding into cringe-worthy territory.

“Mean Girls” is truly not the worst movie I’ve seen in recent memory. But with so much to stand up against, it’s hard to call it objectively good with the large amount to base it off of. It’s not as perfectly comedically acted or quote-worthy as the original film, and it’s definitely not as musically interesting as the Broadway show.

Unfortunately, the film finds itself landing in the middle of the road. Not the worst adaptation we’ve seen, but not one good enough to be talked about for years to come. And considering that comedic mastermind Tina Fey was involved in the story and production of the “Mean Girls” projects, the lack of quality continuity amongst all three seems out of place.

Regardless, the film is still worth a casual watch if you’re a long-standing fan, or just looking to kill an hour or two out of your afternoon. After all, that’s just, like, the rules of feminism.

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Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor

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