A reboot of a reboot, Mean Girls (2024) didn’t have much going for it based on the description alone. If you’ve been online at all in the past few months, you’ve probably heard about the new musical movie version of Mean Girls; opinions have been spreading across social media, including people excited at the prospect of seeing a new version of a childhood favorite and others who are skeptical that anything could beat the original movie. To determine whether the movie lived up to its predecessor, I decided to see it in theaters.
The first thing I noticed was the frequent callbacks, as the film does a great job of entertaining fans of the original and bringing new aspects to the classic story without ruining the main plot points themself. However, it’s become more modernized, with cell phones and social media becoming major factors that affect the storyline. It’s an amusing film that easily grabs the viewer’s attention with fun acting and bright colors – an overall good job integrating the original plot while adding new elements.
However, a major pitfall of the movie is the soundtrack. One of the greatest appeals of the Mean Girls musical was the lively music and fun, upbeat production. Understandably, many songs had to be altered to fit the voices of the new cast, but one of the greatest losses was the new production of the song “Stupid with Love”. The song was toned down and dull, which was a theme with many of the songs on the soundtrack. It was clear that the soundtrack as a whole was trying to leave the Broadway theme and stick to a pop genre that was more suited for general audiences. Still, by doing this, it alienated itself from both audiences and created a mediocre mix of songs that didn’t sit well with many viewers.
An interesting choice made by the marketing department was to advertise Mean Girls as a movie rather than a musical. This confused audiences and made many viewers disappointed after finding out in the theater itself that it was a movie. Though this decision may have raised opening week sales, it ultimately led to disappointment and annoyance among fans who watched the movie with different expectations than what it provided.
Mean Girls made up for this with its choice of actors. Rather than mainly advertising Angourie Rice (the actress portraying Cady Heron), the advertising team decided to focus on Reneé Rapp, an artist who’s been on the rise for the past year and previously performed as Regina George in the musical adaptation as well. In my opinion, this was a smart choice. Reneé Rapp already had a strong fanbase within smaller communities, and the Mean Girls promotion both skyrocketed her fame and boosted ticket sales for the movie.
Throughout the movie, the clear standout actress was Rapp. Though Rice performed well in the role of Heron, Rapp’s acting and musical talents outshined many of her peers, including her, and left audiences wanting more. Rice had decent acting skills that were about what you would expect from a movie of this caliber, but Rapp was able to take her role to another level, which left Rice looking worse as a result. Another standout was Auli’i Cravalho, who many may recognize from her voice acting role in Moana or from the 2022 film Crush. Cravalho’s vocal and acting skills were much better than I predicted when I entered the movie. Her songs “Revenge Party” and “I’d Rather Be Me” are some of the best in the film.
Overall, I think the film is worth a watch. The acting is well done, and the humor is witty in a way that’s on par with the original movie. But, all good reboots have their pitfall, and for Mean Girls, it just so happens to be in its soundtrack.