While I wasn’t tickled by the tepid teen comedy stylings of 2004’s “Mean Girls,” I do respect the fact that the film was an influential hit while providing writer Tina Fey with a deserved shot at Hollywood stardom. “Mean Girls 2” isn’t a sequel, but a remake of the original picture, once again pitting the unpopular against the popular in an eternal struggle for high school hallway supremacy. Whatever problems I had with the 2004 feature aren’t even an issue here, as the new film offers a decidedly more pedestrian take on the clique warfare concept, trading Fey’s sly ambition for cruel DTV routine.Constantly relocated throughout America due to her father’s NASCAR mechanic job, Jo (Meaghan Martin) is used to the challenges of a new high school. Looking to keep a low profile, Jo is instead outed by The Plastics, a powerful clique run by the vain Mandi (Maiara Walsh). Trying to avoid conflict, Jo retreats to the comfort of school nerd Abby (Jennifer Stone), who doesn’t have any BFFs. Sensing an opportunity, Abby’s infomercial kingpin father offers to pay Jo’s college tuition as a reward for maintaining a friendship with his daughter. Accepting the cash, Jo sets out to overthrow Mandi with Abby’s help, finding life on top of popularity food chain isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
"Only plastic on paper"
Trust me, I understand “Mean Girls 2” is strictly Redbox sleepover fodder for soda-cranked tweens, leaving me at a disadvantage, being neither an adolescent girl nor someone who enjoys lazy screenwriting. While the premise has been reworked a bit to bring the budget down, “Mean Girls 2” doesn’t stray too far from the ingredients that attracted so much attention the first time around. There are still snobby, label-obsessed Barbies doing slo-mo jaunts through hallways, while the spunky new girl figures out a way to survive the teen nightmare, using her grounded upbringing as tool in her arsenal of intelligence. We have introductions, interactions, and a big football climax where The Plastics and The Anti-Plastics (Jo’s clever name for her group) face off. And in between the blocks of exposition there are little flashes of neuroses, childish pranks, and social media humiliations to keep the cast occupied.
Sadly, director Melanie Mayron doesn’t provide needed life to the proceedings, merely serving up the catty behavior in an exhausted manner befitting a woman faced with making a DTV sequel to “Mean Girls.” It’s a tedious film that employs vomit and fecal jokes to keep the viewer awake, replacing Fey’s razor wit with gross-out hijinks that just aren’t funny. Instead of challenging the page, Mayron seems enslaved by the rusted plot, glumly executing the traitorous events, feeding into the film’s overall sense of weariness. Even the shrill, television-trained cast of young actresses eager to make a big impression can’t liven up the proceedings, with much of the performances inducing headaches, not amusement. I don’t care how white the smiles are or how chipper the slapstick, the comedy just isn’t going to happen. Not even Meryl Streep could make a dog puke joke amusing.Robotic and insincere to the very end, “Mean Girls 2” doesn’t color outside of the lines, which is a real shame. As with any DTV production, nobody is actually paying attention. Why not try something subversive with genuine comedic heft? To compete with the bar set by Fey, it takes more than bathroom humor, the return of Tim Meadows (reprising his principal role), and a photocopied plot to make a welcome impression.
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originally posted: 02/07/11 09:42:18