Mean Girls

Reviewed By Carina Hoskisson
Posted 05/05/04 08:56:41

"Whoever said that girls are everything nice, never went to high school"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

I know what’s holding you back from seeing Mean Girls. After all, Mean Girls is from the people who make Saturday Night Live movies. Awful movies like Ladies Man or Night at the Roxbury. Let the anger and the torn headshot of Chris Kattan go, this comedy is actually funny.

Our cute and naïve heroine Cady(Lindsay Lohan,) home schooled by researcher parents while living in the Kalahari, is attending a real suburban high school for the first time. Cady’s intelligence and sweetness served her well in Africa, but this is America, which makes Cady fresh fish. Cady’s wholesomeness excludes her from the major social groups and she eventually falls into the company of a couple of other loners. The problem? Cady is cute, really cute, and cute enough to be potentially popular. Her loner friends, sensing an opportunity at sabotage, urge Cady to converse with the popular bitchy “Plastic” girls. Cady is accepted into The Plastics and all that their privileged and cruel world provides. The deeper Cady gets, the harder it is to separate what is sabotage and what is whole-hearted acceptance of the Plastic lifestyle.

Tina Fey, current head writer for SNL, has penned a witty and cruel movie. Don’t let the mediocre skits from regular SNL fool you: it's obvious that Fey knows how to write, pace comedy, and deliver a great backhanded compliment. All the tiny destructive things girls do to each other in high school are here in gloriously evil detail.

Previous Lorne Michaels’ movies seem to exist just to provide a handful of cameos to rapidly dimming stars. I’m pleased to say that Mean Girls is the exception. Fey doesn’t rely on quirky side characters to carry the movie. The supporting roles are funny, they have to be, but the characters are authentic as well.
Tina Fey also headlines as a math teacher who is confused by Cady’s feigned indifference to calculus and rapidly sinking grades. Tim Meadows is actually enjoyable as the Principal for the first time in quite a few movies. Cheers to Fey for writing a role that doesn’t turn Meadows into a caricature. Amy Poehler, a personal favorite, is excellent as a Plastic mom trying desperately to be the ‘cool mom.’ It was great to see Neil Flynn (best known as the janitor from Scrubs) in a different role as Cady’s dad.
Lizzy Caplan, who plays Cady’s loner friend Janis, is a standout. I’ve enjoyed Caplan’s previous work on the WB’s Smallville and think that she will go far. The Plastics are hilariously portrayed, including a great performance by Lacey Chaubert as Gretchen Wieners.

The underlying meanness doesn’t escape the sugared up third act. Even when Mean Girls is supposed to be sappy it keeps its, well, mean roots. Lindsay Lohan should be commended for her transformation from home-schooled innocence to high-flying Plastic. It is difficult to keep a comedy sustained and Lohan’s narration does its best to highlight the hilarity and pain the story entails. Her solid performance marks another hit for this up and coming star.

I’d like to pick a bone with the marketing department. The crazy kids in charge of promoting Mean Girls did an awful job at portraying the movie as even slightly intelligent. Therefore while teens might be drawn to the multiplex an even older crowd, (say, the Breakfast Club generation) who might be equally entertained by this clever movie, could be distracted by the bubble-gum campaign.

If you can appreciate a little viciousness between friends then Mean Girls is for you.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.