Musical ‘Mean Girls’ misses orginal’s magic

Remake not ‘massive deal’ Regina claims it to be
2004 iconic movie, Mean Girls, gets musical remake featuring songs from its Broadway Musical counterpart. Set in a modern day high school, the film stars young talents such as Reneé Rapp, Angourie Rice, Avantika Vandanapu, and Auliʻi Cravalho.
2004 iconic movie, Mean Girls, gets musical remake featuring songs from its Broadway Musical counterpart. Set in a modern day high school, the film stars young talents such as Reneé Rapp, Angourie Rice, Avantika Vandanapu, and Auliʻi Cravalho.
Sophie Leung-Lieu
Mean Girls (2024) was released in theaters on Jan. 12 with a new musical twist.

Gretchen, stop trying to make musical reboots a thing! In January, 20 years after the popular high school comedy Mean Girls first hit screens, filmmakers including original cast member and writer Tina Fey released a new version of the story featuring songs from the musical, which premiered in April 2018. Since reboots are often cash grabs, expectations were fairly medium for this movie, and they were adequately met. If you’re just looking for another take on the Mean Girls story or if you want a fun, not very thought-provoking, song-filled teen movie then look no further; for fans of the original’s heartwarming elements, this movie may be a disappointment.

Even though the songs in the reboot are catchy, story-relevant and true to the musical, they often either turned important scenes into rushed montages or took up unnecessary space at the expense of important plot development. For example, Gretchen has a song during an emotional moment with a music box that she gives to Regina, which is not in the original and adds little to the plot. Although shining the spotlight on a minor character, especially with a song, is a nice gesture, this subplot is almost never addressed again.

The only “redemption” or even second mention that Gretchen receives occurs when she rejectes another character, Jason, who she has liked the whole year but chooses not to keep dating because he doesn’t treat her well; this resolution, however, takes place during a rushed, glossed-over moment at the end of the movie and the audience never gets full closure on this plot line; in fact, the plot line barely even starts in the first place. Other musical montages that should’ve taken whole scenes to develop fully, like the “revenge party,” condense so many of the small-but-important details that characterized the “mean girl” in the original movie into a confusing, barely-hitting-all-the-bases few minutes. Snippets in the original movie that shows Regina’s true ability to be mean were cut to make space for the song.

Bebe Wood (left), Reneé Rapp (middle), and Avantika Vandanapu (right) star as the three mean girls, Gretchen, Regina, and Karen in their introductory number “Meet the Plastics”. Photo by Paramount Pictures. Photo reposted here under the doctrine of fair use.

It’s clear that the producers of this reboot made some effort to be original, and it’s good for a remake to avoid being a carbon copy, but it seems the directors chose more insignificant things to be original about while also leaving behind some iconic aspects of the original. For one, the trademark three-way phone call scenes were not included at all, while other scenes replicate the dialogue from the original word for word. The glaring product placement was not only obvious but also unrealistic; rich girls are more likely to buy Charlotte Tilbury than Elf. There were also added features like the integration of modern technology into the storyline, most likely to get a new young audience engaged in the story. This update, however, made the story stray from the true message through its distracting visuals, although this twist was somewhat interesting to see because it detailed the actions of mean girls in the present age.

The reboot is missing some of the essential elements that were so key to making the original a success, and lacks the same depth

The reboot is missing some of the essential elements that were essential to making the original a success and lacks the same depth. Much of the magic of the original came from set production such as outfits, which were poorly recreated in the new movie. Also, Regina’s breakthrough in which she displays some humanity and finds an outlet for her anger was written off in the reboot. In the remake, Regina’s kindness to Cady at the Spring Fling dance is simply attributed to Regina being loopy from medications for a few extra laughs, and did not imply real character growth as it does in the original. This made the story lose some of its strongest core message, in which mean girls still have good in them. The same cannot be said about 2024 Regina.

In its entirety, this remake proved to be the third hand version of the Mean Girls story that it was expected to be, as it is a movie based on a musical based on a movie, delivering a watered-down rendition of a 2000s comedy classic. Though some of the original’s main aspects are recreated, the reboot is missing the emotion and structure of the first Mean Girls.

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  • P

    PoppyFeb 20, 2024 at 5:52 pm

    This piece is well written and I like the points you’ve made. I think the reboot needs to have those essential iconic scenes to make it feel like “mean girls”, as you’ve said. Another detail you mentioned was the 3-way call and that scene is so popular that it totally should’ve made it into the movie. You mentioned a part when Regina’s true ability to be mean was cut by a song and that was a small but important moment, but with new modern movies, I feel like songs are what catch kid’s attention and make it more exciting.

  • A

    Arwen PelletierFeb 18, 2024 at 9:34 pm

    I agree with most of the points you made in this piece, for example I also think that the storyline felt sort-of rushed and not really adequately thought over as it should’ve been to give respect to the original. At the same time, this remake is a musical which is expected to be sillier and more loose so it makes sense. Also, I love the fact that you pointed out how all of the rich characters use ELF products in the move, when in reality wealthy teenagers use nicer products.

  • K

    Katie HyzakFeb 14, 2024 at 8:20 pm

    I like this story because of the way that I agree with the statements made. It is also very well written in a way that the reasons as to why the movie was not the best, can make the reader change their opinion. It might have been good to put the opinion of people that have seen the movie in the story, but otherwise, I think that this is a great piece.

    • V

      Vivian MooreFeb 27, 2024 at 5:53 pm

      I like that you didn’t just critique the plot writing, but mentioned how the message itself was changed. I completely agree.