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Mean Girls

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Mean Girls

Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey
Director: Mark Waters
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: April 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Lizzy Caplan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Daniel Franzese, Tim Meadows, Jonathan Bennett, Wai Choy, Amy Poehler, Rajiv Surendra, Jonathan Malen, Olympia Lukis

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

It's a jungle out there, and Cady -- pronounced "Katy" not "Catty" -- Heron should know. Recently arrived in America after living in Africa with her research zoologist parents, Cady finds out on her very first day in school that students can be just like wild animals. But Cady isn't entering kindergarten; she is a very smart junior in high school, having previously been homeschooled in the bush by her mother.

MEAN GIRLS stars the popular Lindsay Lohan, now a 17-year-old who has had two big hits (FREAKY FRIDAY and the remake of THE PARENT TRAP) and one surprising miss (CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN). Paired again with FREAKY FRIDAY's director, Mark S. Waters, she dazzles us once more. Tina's Fey's smartly written script, based on Rosalind Wiseman's novel, "Queen Bees and Wannabes," is a perfect match for Lohan's intelligent brand of comedy. The formula film finds a long series of fresh ways to develop classic teen comedy setups. A PG-13 comedy that's just raunchy and real enough to draw in teen audiences, it isn't much past a PG film so tweens should be able to enjoy it too. With plenty of good messages along with the good jokes, it is also a film that parents will be happy to go to or to see their kids go to without them.

Cady immediately bonds with two of the school's outcasts, Janis (Lizzy Caplan), a Goth girl who is ridiculed as a lesbian, but isn't, and Damian (Daniel Franzese), a gay guy who proudly left the closet years ago. The social leader of their class is a take-no-prisoners queen bee named Regina (Rachel McAdams), who is always accompanied by her two bitches-in-waiting, Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) and Karen (Amanda Seyfried). Karen is the dumb-as-a-stone blonde who claims to have "ESPN," bragging that her boobs can predict rain. Well, they can if it is currently raining and she is outside. Regina reigns supreme by cutting down everyone else.

The plot has Janis, who has been hurt more than once, convincing Cady to go deep undercover as a "Plastic," the derogatory name for Regina's group of little bitches. Cady is supposed to find dirt on Regina and use it against her. As an undercover narc will admit, entering a scene can change you. Soon Cady becomes less and less like her old friends and more and more like her evil new ones. In some of the movie's more original moments, the students start acting out the same animal behaviors that Cady once observed in the wild out on the savanna. The fountain in the local mall, for example, is transformed into an animal watering hole.

The ending may seem a little too pat and cute, but it is done imaginatively and convincingly. MEAN GIRLS reminds us in a positive way of the crucial importance of a good script, even in just a little teen comedy.

MEAN GIRLS runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content, language and some teen partying" and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave it ***, commenting on how cute, sweet and funny it was. He found the plot predictable but interesting. He remarked several times on how hot Lohan was.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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