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New Mean Girls fails to live up to the original

From left: Bebe Wood, Reneé Rapp, and Avantika Vandanapu portraying the plastics in the 2024 Mean Girls (Mean Girls 2024/Jojo Whilden/ © 2023 Paramount Picture)
From left: Bebe Wood, Reneé Rapp, and Avantika Vandanapu portraying the “plastics” in the 2024 “Mean Girls” (Mean Girls 2024/Jojo Whilden/ © 2023 Paramount Picture)

Released to theaters on Jan. 12, 2024, the musical remake of “Mean Girls” was directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.

The original 2004 Mark Waters “Mean Girls” stood out amongst its early 2000s peers. It used the cliches of teen comedy: a school setting with a focus on the petty relationships of popular teens and the division of outcasts, all while presenting something real, brash and blackly comical, making it feel as if it ascended over the conventions of the genre. 

Twenty years later, teen comedy has changed its formula, with the new “Mean Girls” not ascending past anything. In fact, it feels rather subjugated by the legacy of the original and by the musical format. 

This subjugation appears most apparent in the way the singing and not singing parts string together. To make way for the songs, multiple moments from the original get squeezed together into the same scene, and without any alterations to certain pieces of dialogue, the moments lose all of their comedic timing. 

The disregard for timing becomes particularly frustrating because Jayne and Perez Jr. also cut some of the best, funniest moments from the original.

For example, the moment when Aaron (Christopher Briney) finds Regina (Reneé Rapp) cheating gets cut so short it stops trying to be funny. The moments with Regina’s mom (portrayed now by Busy Philipps) and her little sister get mostly removed, which is a shame since those parts were both socially relevant and entertaining (though the mom has one funny line).

Cady’s (Angourie Rice) takedown of Regina gets shortened to around 20 minutes, when in the original it takes up most of the movie and is where most of the jokes happen.

Moments in which insults occurred in the original film get removed; meaning insults are barely thrown. The remaining scenes with insults get censored to the point of childishness. Janice (Auliʻi Cravalho) now being a lesbian in the film takes away from her insult. The “Burn Book” no longer acts as a source of insults. In this movie, the book gets left in the hallway instead of the pages getting thrown out by Regina, which is a useless change that cheapens the drama.

The most annoying part of the film is that the songs add nothing to the quality. The Regina George song is the only decent song, but Reneé Rapp delivers it like a faux Billie Eilish song. Other than that one, the songs feel forgettable, boring and time-wasting, although two stand out for their awkwardness: the Halloween party song and Janice’s song after the school fight. The Halloween song though it’s choreographed well and has a good message about the sexualization of girls, feels unnecessary. The original movie made the same remark in a funnier way that didn’t disrupt the entire flow of the movie. Secondly, turning Janice’s moment after the fight from a triumphant moment of teenage angst to an unbearably melodramatic song kills all the emotion and purpose of the scene.

There is surprisingly good quality in the few moments when something completely different from the original happens. Particularly new parts for Damien (Jaquel Spivey), such as him singing the iCarly theme song in French and using the dolls to illustrate the drama between Janice and Regina. However, these new, quality moments happen too few times to save the film.

Don’t waste your time, watch the original movie instead.

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About the Contributor
Dominic Zdan, Entertainment Editor
Dominic Zdan is a freshman and first-year journalism student. Outside of school he enjoys listening to music, specifically punk and older rock music, watching movies, reading classic literature and hanging out with friends.

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