Film #3 on the 100 Movies Bucket List: Mean Girls
The third film on my 100 Movies Bucket List is Mean Girls, a film I’ve seen but never had any strong emotion for. Mean Girls stars Lindsay Lohan as Cady, who after living and being homeschooled in Africa for most of her life, must now enter the terrifying world of an American high school. Here she meets Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese) who clue her into high school hierarchy, including introducing her to the Plastics: Regina (Rachel McAdams), Karen (Amanda Seyfried) and Gretchen (Lacey Chabert).
Mean Girls is a teenage movie that is unlike many others – instead of being dumb and crude, it’s surprisingly smart and humorous. From the opening scenes, it’s obvious that this is intelligent. It’s full of subtle jokes and remarks and some absolutely superb one-liners, and these are all down to Tina Fey who has written an excellent script. And in the process appears to have some of the best lines as teacher Mrs Norbury, but do you blame her? Mean Girls manages to portray the high school hierarchy and social interactions perfectly. Whilst it is obviously catering more to American high schoolers, I doubt there are many that would watch this and not see something that they personally experienced at high school. It’s almost poking fun at the high school experience but in such a smart and enjoyable way. There are moments and lines in this that are almost verging on inappropriate, and likely wouldn’t be acceptable in today’s society, but even though this was made in 2004 I don’t doubt that this impropriety is still reflective of modern-day high schools.
The acting on offer here is superb. Lindsay Lohan is entirely believable as Cady and this is hugely important considering the message Mean Girls is portraying. This film is entirely about the realisation that you should be happy about you are, and that putting other people down will never achieve anything. Getting this message across is done very well, in a funny yet almost heartwarming manner although admittedly it is all rather obvious. Although at least this tries to avoid as many teenage film clichés as possible, which makes for a refreshing change.
My problem with Mean Girls is the whole bitchiness of it all that underpins the second act. I know “mean” girls were to be expected, but by the end I found myself getting very irritable with how horrible these girls were and the constant sniping at each other. This may stem from my own sometimes unpleasant experiences at high school, but teenage girls stabbing each other in the backs gets very old very quickly. Fortunately the ending does at least relieve some of the meanness and provide a surprisingly heartwarming and uplifting resolution, but I’m afraid some of the damage remains. And I must admit that seeing a smart girl play dumb and risk failing for a boy really makes my blood boil, and yes I do know it’s only a film.
Overall Mean Girls is a well done teenage film which stands out mostly because of its very smart script. It’s probably one of the best high school-based films out there but it isn’t perfect, and I do question as to whether it deserves a spot on the bucket list when there are so many outstanding films that have missed out.
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