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mean-girls-2024-hed.jpg

'Mean Girls' Slays

By Dustin Rowles | Film | January 13, 2024 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | January 13, 2024 |


mean-girls-2024-hed.jpg

For people of a certain age — say, ten years old to 60 years old — the 2024 Mean Girls has to carry the heavy burden of following the 2004 Mean Girls, a film that remains the most popular teen flick of this century, one that remains a sleepover fixture for a lot of tweens and teens. It’s a film that — racist and homophobic stereotypes and a misguided pedophilia subplot aside — has aged well enough that a remake hardly seems necessary, especially one that uses the same characters to repeat the same story.

But here’s the thing that many people forget: Music makes things better. Good music is transformative. Music is like a good, safe drug: It enhances and takes all of our emotions and amplifies them. And that’s what the music does to the 2024 Mean Girls: It makes the comedy resonate more; it kicks everything up a notch. Music is like changing the sound from black and white into color.

Lizzy Caplan’s character is my favorite thing about the original, but Auli’i Cravalho’s Janis is better because she sings and dances and kicks a tremendous amount of ass doing so. Also, she’s actually queer — proudly so — instead of being accused of being a lesbian as a way to humiliate her. Rachel McAdams’ Regina George is iconic, but music transforms Reneé Rapp into Cruella de Ville doing the Imperial March through the halls of North Shore High School. Every musical scene has an extra layer of emotion the original Mean Girls didn’t, and while I never thought anything could be missing from the original, I suspect it may feel slightly empty after watching the musical update.

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Anyone who has seen the original knows what to expect from the remake, and while the original cast is perfect, every actor here holds their own against them, in particular, Auli’i Cravalho and Reneé Rapp, both of whom improve on the 2004 versions. Jaquel Spivey is also a better Damian Hibbard, and Avantika is a better Karen than the originals. I was also pleasantly surprised that while the story is the same, and some of the original lines do return in one form or another, it’s also been updated with new jokes and even some lines that work on their own but also call back to the original.

There’s not much to add without unnecessarily dissecting the comedy, but the musical numbers are almost all great (only one slows the momentum of the story), and from what I understand, a few of the weaker numbers from the Broadway musical have been pulled. If there’s a major weakness, it’s that the ending isn’t as rousing as it could have been for a musical set at the Spring Fling. It’s good, but it could’ve been bigger, flashier, and more musical-y.

I know that remaking movies into Broadway musicals and remaking the musicals back into movies is going to continue to be a thing, but I’m not opposed to it. Give us more! Update the Breakfast Club and turn it into a musical. The next Fast & Furious can be Fast: The Musical. Give us Oppenheimer: The Musical. Everything’s better with music.