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REVIEW: Mean Girls ‘24 doesn’t measure up to original, what happened?

Excellent movie remake opportunity ruined by casting and writing flaws

Fluorescent blue lights flash in a shadowed room full of teenage partygoers frozen in time, their faces darkly illuminated by the pulsating sheen. Through it all, Renee Rap, playing Regina George, hypnotizes a stunned audience with her melodious voice, dominating the motionless Halloween party. 

This is one of Arturo Perez Jr.’s fresh takes on the classic high school movie, Mean Girls. 

Directed by Perez, the new Mean Girls movie was very different from the 2004 version in artistic style, cinematography, and significance. It offered a new but not original perspective on the impact of social media on the lives of teens today.

The potential of this movie was thwarted by major acting and writing flaws. The effort put into it simply couldn’t cover up the movie’s mistakes and ultimately brought it all down gloriously. My rating would land at a solid 3/5 stars. 

The movie follows actress Angourie Rice as Caty Heron, a 16-year-old homeschooler who’s taking her first steps into public high school. When she arrives at North Shore High, she finds it hard to fit in with other students, and the plastics, a particularly devious clique, don’t help. Led by a manipulative and opportunistic Regina, the plastics keep the school in a chokehold that allows no one individuality or expression without fear of ridicule and social exile. When Cady’s invited to join the group, she’s hesitant, but with the guidance of a few fellow misfits and a plan to overthrow Regina and her disciples, she joins. Little does she know how a few well-aimed blows at the foundation of Regina’s empire will not only strike revenge but free the whole school.

Admittedly, there were some positives of the movie, such as the background characters. They helped to add depth, personality, and humor when necessary to keep the audience’s attention. Even though they weren’t main characters, they still (purposefully) played a major role in the movie which I found unique and surprising. The film showed their personality in expressive clothing, lines, and actions. Each and every one seemed to take on their own identity. 

At points, the movie even got comedic with lines ranging from teen slang to references to the original movie, such as: “Slay queens!”, “She ate.”, and “@Coolmom.” The audience was delighted to see this generation’s slang recognized and referenced.

The incorporation of social media also differentiated this Mean Girls movie from the original. There were TikTok dances, clips of reaction videos, critical comment sections, and hateful texting. It displayed the consequences of social media on teens’ lives, mental health, and well-being. Therefore, teens’ obsession with social media was a major factor in the plot and resolution.

The cinematography was also absolutely amazing with smooth transitions and perfect lighting. Yet, the movie still had the feel and aura of a Disney Channel TV show. For example, in the first scene, the characters break the fourth wall to theatrically speak to the camera before breaking out into song. This way of acting only continued throughout the whole movie, making it seem more like a play or sitcom than a movie. 

This wasn’t the only issue with acting and shooting, though, because a few mistakes later and it’s clear why this movie has been under such heavy criticism. 

For one, Rice’s portrayal of Caty was unemotional, forced, and unrealistic. While she’s a phenomenal singer, her acting skills don’t measure up. Especially in the first couple of scenes, Rice was running through the actions but she didn’t have any connection to the words she was singing. In the first song in particular, her emotions looked forced and her actions looked rigid and almost robotic. It took a lot out of the film to have an uninspired main character. 

Yet another casting mishap was that of Auli’i Cravalho who played Caty’s friend, Janice. While Cravalho is a talented voice actress, her body language and expressions weren’t. She, too, didn’t seem committed to the script she was reciting. 

One of the most important parts of any movie, the ending, came off as overblown, awkward, and simply unrealistic. While some of the movie’s supporters may say that it was nice to have a happy ending, by dragging on the plot, the climax was delayed and improperly placed. Since it drew on for so long, the cheery ending seemed spontaneous, ineffective, and cheesy. 

Nonetheless, Mean Girls 2024 is an soulful piece that attempts to demonstrate teens’ need to be authentic and distinct, rather than following the crowd. With this message in mind, it’s unfortunate the movie couldn’t rise to its full potential because of a few poor choices. Renee Rap may have dominated that Halloween party, but sadly Mean Girls 2024 failed to dominate audiences. Despite this, once the credits began to roll, a movie theater full of mostly pre-teen and teen girls erupted into applause. The movie may not be worth paying for, but it’s a soberingly honest representation of what teens face today.

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