by Greg Muskewitz
Caustic high school comedy written by Tina Fey, from the book “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” about a previously home-schooled junior (Lindsay Lohan), who lived in Africa with her zoologist parents, adjusting to the reality of a “real” high school.(Even for a smarter high school comedy, it doesn’t much resemble the one I went to.) She’s befriended by a pair of outcasts, a goth-y artist and her gay best friend, before she’s welcomed by the Plastics (“teen royalty”), and is cajoled into using her position to penetrate and help devise the downfall of superficiality while using just that to go incognito. Being as that it’s about high school, we’re sure to acknowledge the typical clichés such as school cliques (the Plastics, the jocks and their sub-divisions, the Asians, the nerds (the math squad, which joining would be “social suicide,” is known as the Mathletes), etc.), but the main focus is bringing down the queen bee and her “army of skanks” through some calculated tactics: setting them against each other.
"Bitchy & Bitchier."
The movie, directed by Mark S. Waters, has just as much of a conscience as our main character, and in having such it only makes the laughs come all the harder. The division of Lohan’s character’s attention is well set-up between her friends, the Plastics, and the boy she is jonesing for, and even as the focus is as the title suggests, on the mean girls, the three strands continually orbit around one another to help build a development often missing from a typical high school comedy.
Fey, who also co-stars as the math teacher, is similarly surrounded by other current or former SNL members — Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Poehler (one of the few truly funny cast members around today) — and with this serving as her debut screenplay, one can only wonder why, as the head writer of SNL, her writing isn’t as consistently funny on the show.
Still, in Mean Girls, she proves very capable of creating individual characters out of stereotypical blocks, all the while being sharply humorous about it. And despite its brisk pace, the movie rarely abandons its conscience to merely go for a zinger. With Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Lizzy Caplan, Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Franzese, and Jonathan Bennett.[Worth seeing.]
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9283&reviewer=172
originally posted: 05/12/04 02:26:49