top of page


Mean Girls

Mean Girls (2004) is one of the most iconic films of the 21st century. Despite turning twenty this year its reputation precedes itself and it’s still universally loved. It’s known for its endless quotable moments that have become famous memes amongst the online generation. Mean Girls’ success eventually led to its original creator, Tina Fey, teaming up with Nell Benjamin to create a musical adaptation that premiered on Broadway in 2017. Now, less than a decade later, the Mean Girls musical has been adapted for the big screen. 


When Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) returns to America from Kenya with her mother she starts high school for the first time. As a social outcast she finds herself in the company of Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damien (Jaquel Spivey). But when she is noticed by the leader of the plastics, the most popular group in school, Regina George (Reneé Rapp) she’s catapulted to the top of the social food chain. Cady takes advantage of her new found status by pursuing a relationship with Regina’s ex-boyfriend Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), and spying on the plastics for Janis and Damien.


The musical adaptation of Mean Girls being made into a film was always going to be a hard sell no matter the quality. The disappointing thing is that it was set up for failure when the official trailer came out and it completely omitted any kind of tease to the songs that make up this version. This omission made it seem as though it was simply a remake of the original, and if you go into this version comparing it to that then you are going to be sorely disappointed. The unapologetic nature within the film, however, is clear, which is to Mean Girls’ benefit. Mean Girls (2024) is at its most fun when it’s embracing the fact it’s a musical version of the beloved story, but it doesn’t feel like it always commits to this. 

Mean Girls

The narrative is watertight, but that’s due to the fact it re-treads the ground, beat for beat, of the original. If you aren’t familiar with the musical then it is a fun exercise to see what aspects of the plot they use as foundations for the songs. These in turn help push along the narrative beyond it being a rehash of what came before it. Most of the songs are catchy earworms that are matched with snappy, kind of surreal at times, choreography. It’s no surprise that the strongest numbers are Regina George’s solo efforts. Having played Regina on Broadway, Reneé Rapp effortlessly slips into character exuding the godlike energy that is synonymous with Regina George (You’ll be hard pressed to take a breath during her opening number ‘Meet the Plastics’). Auli’i Cravalho also gets a chance to shine as Janis with her solo ‘I’d Rather Be Me’. 

Having Janis and Damien as the narrators of the story works well, and it’s often the strength of Cravalho and Spivey together that helps carry the vibes where it’s slightly lacking elsewhere. Angourie Rice is a bit lost in her role as Cady Heron. She plays the innocent side to the character well but her transformation into a plastic is unconvincing. Rice’s shortcomings are only made more obvious alongside Reneé Rapp’s spot on Regina. Tina Fey reprises her role as Mrs Norbury and it begs the question as to why some of the other bit parts couldn’t have used their original castings (I’m looking at you Amy Poehler).

Mean Girls

Mean Girls biggest problem is its identity crisis. Two versions of this classic story exist: the original movie, and the musical. This film adaptation struggles to define itself as its own thing. It can never truly live up to the heights that the stage musical sits at because it’s too bogged down with being a greatest hits tour of the original film. The way all of the famous references - like October 3rd, and she doesn’t even go here, are framed will send shivers down your spine as it tries to relive the natural glory these moments hold. This version of Mean Girls is still worthy of admiration though. Its failure to pave its own way doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining film, and one that you could definitely watch again.


Rating Mean Girls


bottom of page