Bottom Line: It’s definitely not what you’d think it is.
Directed by: Mark Waters
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Amy Poehler, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett, Lacey Chabert, Lindsay Lohan, Lizzy Caplan, Neil Flynn, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey
If films were thunderstorms, MEAN GIRLS struck me like a bolt too large and blinding to see. If films were telephones, it was one loud, demanding wake up call. If films were rainbows, it was the mythical pot of gold I had always been told about but never even flinched to believe. You get the picture. What I was expecting was a sassy, girly comedy. Yes, it did tend to be both those. But when someone like former SNL star Tina Fey writes the film, it takes off as a side-splittingly funny, slightly offbeat show of color, cat fights, and crazy characters.
The story is of Cady (Lindsay Lohan), a 16-year-old girl who just moved back home from a long while in Africa. She has been home schooled all her life, so she takes a much different approach to high school than we would expect. Within her first few days, she makes two equally odd friends, who warn her about all the cliques the school has, especially one called the “Plastics”, three gossiping drama queens. Before she can stop herself, Cady ends up becoming a part of the Plastics, leading her two other friends to come up with a plan to drive her out of that territory.
Unless every film by both Mel Brooks and Monty Python are factored in heavily, this is certainly one of the weirdest comedies I’ve seen in quite a while. Not one of the film’s characters shows up without becoming a distinct caricature. Most of these portrayals work well. When the script and acting in one make the Plastics seem true idiots and Cady seem a “Martian” (as they refer to her in one scene), the story is quite relatable to any modern high school, if not the stereotypes we always hear about them. I lost count of how many times one of the friends I watched this with shouted, “This is so true!” throughout the length of the film. Unfortunately, some characters are taken a little over the top. Tina Fey herself seems terribly unbelievable as a teacher, as does Amy Poehler in her role as the mother of one of the Plastics.
What’s so great about this film that looks so standard, from a distance, is that the laughs are so unexpected. Not until the last few scenes does it begin to grow even slightly predictable. The writing carries itself well by using spontaneous actions when it’s unclear where it should go. Not sure how to get a character out of the room? Replace “word vomit” (Lohan’s term for uncontrollable gossip) with real vomit. Not sure what this character’s going to say next in this situation? Let’s all of a sudden hit ’em with a schoolbus. Had these not added to the massive comic value the film owns, they would have been absolute failures–a handful of leaps of faith from the writer. This film was a very worthwhile comedy. Though the plot wasn’t very inventive, the humor is certainly so. How did I enjoy it overall? Let’s just say I watched expecting to hate it and now I’d be willing to watch it once more.