Review of Mean Girls: Recreating the Fetch Magic is a One-Time Feat

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What’s the truth about the Mean Girls remake? This long-standing problem leads to attempts to revive the past by needing a goal other than repeating a famous name once. The 2024 release of “Mean Girls” doubles down on that competition, as it is both a remake of the 2004 film and a remake of the Broadway musical inspired by the original. 

Does the inclusion of a musical sequence originally conceived for the stage justify reconsidering this material for the screen? Or does it represent a revisit two years after screenwriter Tina Fey failed to impress me with a novel of her telling (originally adapted, with fans, from Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bee)? Oddly enough, the answer to both questions is yes.

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The remake faithfully follows the plot and structure of the original film, making slight adjustments to accommodate additional musical elements. It’s disappointing, but the film itself seems to confirm its expectations of established contestants, turning characters once thought to be relatable into condensed versions of their original selves. 

REVIEW: Mean Girls - fun, fabulous, fetch

Angourie Rice’s Cady Heron, for example, put aside her zoological curiosity for her friends and turned to a simple desire for a typical teenage social life, giving the character a new direction. Although Regina George (Renee Rapp) wins the musical, her on-screen performance does not show the gravitas expected, even as Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Afan Tika) wander around listening to her.

The plan created by Janice (Oli Carvalho) and Damian (Jacquie Spivey) involves Cady infiltrating the Plastics Company to avenge Ray Gina’s brutality. While technically flawless, the pace of the narrative feels rushed, leaving little room for interpretation by the players. This can be attributed to the presentation of the stage music from which the film draws inspiration. 

While the music sequences and flashbacks to memorable jokes in the 2004 film worked well for perspective on the period of production, the messages in the film caused the audience to rethink the original by asking questions about the need for renewal.

The reason for this is obviously in the songs, and unfortunately, the film’s narrative overshadows the carefully planned and performed music. In their first showing, directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. masterfully capture the energy of complex shots, choreographed dance sequences, and emotions. 

From the eerie “Someone Got Hurt” to the chaotic “Revenge Party” to the majestic “I’d Rather Be Me,” the music is powerful. But the film can’t stand on its own in the context of the musical remake of Mean Girls, as the main musical is overshadowed by the film, which fails to deliver. While songs and performances are more available than ever, the film is just a box, a hollow shell that holds these elements, similar to single-use plastic.