The cult classic Mean Girls has had many iterations, from parodies to books and even a Broadway musical; reimagining the movie is no surprise to the public. The most recent Mean Girls replication, a musical film released earlier this month, might be the worst.
The original Mean Girls movie, released in 2004, follows the formerly home-schooled Caty Heron as she navigates the social hierarchy of her new high school. She joins the Plastics, a group of girls at the top of the food chain, and experiences the pitfalls and growing pains of high school.
The Plastics are, as the title suggests, mean. They are cruel and manipulative but also empathetic. Their purpose in the narrative is to humanize the archetypal “mean girl.” The newest movie musical, however, has taken away the one thing that made the Mean Girls original movie great: The Plastics’ bite. The iconic insults within the burn book – a book kept by the Plastics to make fun of their peers – are no more, either taken out entirely or reworded to lose their punch. Now, their character’s growth feels less impactful, like their newfound identities aren’t as earned as they were in the original.
The most important part of a musical movie, the music, could be better as well. Taken from the Broadway musical of the same name, the songs are well-written yet poorly performed. Some characters, like Regina George, Damian, and Karen, played by Renee Rapp, Jaquel Spivey, and Avantika Vandanapu, respectively, give show-stopping performances that not only give insight into their characters but are fun to listen to. This, unfortunately, can’t be said for all the songs in the movie. Most notably, songs “Stupid with Love” and “Revenge Party” that feature Caty’s actress Angourie Rice sound flat and lifeless compared to their Broadway counterparts.
Other important details about the movie were lost in this recreation, like the Plastics’ iconic style, Caty’s inner dialogue, and Damian’s one-liners. Not all was lost; this new movie includes better representation on screen and a few more timely jokes and landed well with audiences.
With more replications of classic movies on the horizon, we are left to ask ourselves, “Is it even worth it?” Is it possible to relive the magic of a cult classic such as Mean Girls again twenty years later? Or will Hollywood become an endless cycle of recreations like the Mean Girls Musical Movie that improve on the originals slightly yet fall short in the ways that matter most?