High school is a scary place. Trust me, I know. I've been there. Getting through high school is like taking part in a collection of unpredictable games that test your stamina, self-esteem, and your patience. Okay, so maybe high school wasn't that bad. Based on the non-fiction book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman, Tina Fey's terrific dark comedy, "Mean Girls", takes an honest, sassy, and hilarious look at the sneaky, backpack-wearing monsters who lurk the halls. Take cover.Cady Herron (Lindsay Lohan) has been home-schooled her whole life. Since her parents are zoologists, she was raised in Africa. In her home country, she noticed how the animals communicated, ate, and fought with each other. When her parents move back to the States, she feels that she is ready to take on the world of teenagers. If only she knew... Cady quickly becomes friends with goth chick, Janice Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and the flamboyantly gay, Damian (Daniel Franzese). Within a day or two, she finds herself in the clutches of The Plastics, a trio of beautiful and wealthy girls, led by the delicious Regina George (Rachel McAdams), the nosy Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), and the ditzy Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried). The Plastics are the most popular clique in school, even though everyone is afraid of them. As if she didn't have enough to do, Cady makes the mistake of falling for Regina's ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett). Cady doesn't see the harm in this, but Regina is not going to stand for it. This means war, and the school is their battlefield.
"Tina Fey deserves some major snaps."
Directed with visual and comedic flair by Mark S. Waters ("The House of Yes"), Tina Fey's screenplay keeps the jokes coming fast and furious. The film is filled with biting satire, broken hearts, insincere compliments, and sneaky sabotage. In one scene, Janice cuts up Regina's shirt, not realizing that she has inadvertently created a trend. In another exchange, Regina tells a classmate that she loves her plaid skirt. As soon as the girl walks away, Regina turns to Cady and says, "That is the ugliest f-ing skirt I have ever seen".
Satire is a tricky genre, because the writer has to poke fun at different situations, while not exaggerating it to the point of parody. Fey succeeds with flying colors, as I'm sure a lot of people will relate to the wacky situations on screen. Her script is daffy, to be sure, but she keeps things authentic, and never lets the story digress into sap. For example... Throughout the film, Cady compares the interaction of students to that of wild apes. Also, in her attempt to get closer to Aaron, she purposely fails her math tests (even though she is really a whiz at math). Even the obligatory prom scene at the finale resembles an actual prom, as opposed to a flashy spectacle where all of the students perform a previously choreographed dance. Details like that succeed draw the audience further into the dangerous world that Fey is trying to create.
After holding her own against Natasha Richardson & Dennis Quaid in "The Parent Trap", and Jamie Lee Curtis in "Freaky Friday", Lindsay Lohan delivers her best performance as Cady Herron. The transformation that Cady takes, from meek girl to devilish vixen, is quite remarkable. Lohan displays an assured and maturing acting talent, as well as an impressive knack for comedic timing. When she first arrives at school, Cady has no desire to be popular. All that she wants is to get through her day, unscathed. However, when she becomes the talk of the school, it does not occur to her that horrible things are headed her way. Lohan makes this transition organic and convincing. She has enough star power to last a while. Hopefully, she'll continue to choose her projects carefully, as her performance as Cady is one of the most impressive of the year.
Rachel McAdams ("The Notebook") is another standout as Regina George, a blonde "biatch" who is so good at hiding her true colors. You never know when she'll whip out her claws. Lacey Chabert ("Not Another Teen Movie") and Amanda Seyfried (TV's 'All My Children') are adorable as Gretchen and Karen, respectively. Unlike Regina, neither Karen nor Gretchen are mean. They hang out with her simply because it makes them feel like they're part of a special group. Lizzy Caplan (TV's 'The Pitts') and Daniel Franzese ("Bully") steal their scenes as Janice and Damien, while never turning them into stereotype. Jon Bennett ("Season of Youth") avoids playing Aaron as a cliche boyfriend character. Instead, he makes Aaron a really likable guy who, as fate would have it, is caught inbetween Cady and Regina. The adult cast, made up of first-class comedians, is just as strong. Amy Poehler, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Neil Flynn, and especially Tina Fey, give it their all, and add their unique quirks to the proceedings."Mean Girls" is a simply divine treat for anyone who has ever gone to high school, meaning that almost everyone will enjoy it. It easily joins "Clueless", "10 Things I Hate About You", "American Pie", "Saved!", "The Girl Next Door", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and the Brat Pack flicks as one of the best teen movies. The bitchy dialogue, vicious direction, and developed characters elevate it into a class above the rest. It's one of the finest films of the year. The bottom line: It's so fetch.
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originally posted: 12/13/04 09:39:27