It’s a high school movie and I will confess that, with a few exceptions (e.g. Cruel Intentions and Grease), I have a lifelong dislike of American high school movies, which always seem to be full of girls wearing too much make up and unsuitably sexy adult clothes and boys the size of a brick wall who are known as “jocks”, play a lot of sport and seem to have no brains. At the centre there will be a naïve newcomer, who is bullied by the ruling gang but prevails at the end. Mean Girls is no exception. For a really good comic take on the high school movie, see Spielberg’s reminiscent scenes in the last section of The Fabelmans.
Cady, the Lindsay Logan role, played here by Angourie Rice, is the new girl at school, where the ruling gang, known as The Plastics, is a group of overdressed girls (see above) ruled over by Regina George (Reneé Rapp). At first Cady’s only friends are fellow outcasts Janis (Auli’i Cravalho – interestingly weird) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey – delightfully camp). But then for some reason Regina takes a fancy to her and gives her sort of honorary Plastics status. Until that is Cady falls for Regina’s ex-boyfriend Aaron (Christopher Briney) and the long and painted “scratch your eyes out” fingernails are ready for action.
Both Mean Girls films and the show are written by one of my favourite American comediennes Tina Fey, but much of her wit is drowned out here by the fact that the soundtrack on the film is DEAFENING. The song lyrics are unintelligible, as is much of the dialogue.
The choreography is spirited and rather good in a pop video sort of way, particularly one number featuring Plastics member Karen (Avantika). But the dance numbers bear little relation to the plot and take it forward not one jot. They are more like choreographic breaks in the action. To quote Louis Armstong from a much better musical High Society, “End of story, beginning of song” – only this story grinds to a halt every time there’s a musical number.
The performances are actually rather good. As well as those already mentioned, Rapp as Regina really relishes her role as the bitchy bad girl, though the love story between Aaron and Cadey and Regina’s jealousy over it get a bit lost in the noise. And there’s an awful lot of pink in the colour scheme. In one scene where Cady visits Regina and the hostess’s mum (Busy Philipps) is behaving like one of the girls, I began to feel I was back in the world of Barbie.