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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

‘Mean Girls,’ a Remake of the 2000s Cult Classic, Fails to Deliver on What Made the Original So ‘Fetch’


This article contains spoilers for “Mean Girls” (2024).

The new film adaptation based on the Broadway musical of the movie “Mean Girls” (yes, you read that correctly) seems to have lost what made the prior two productions so addictive, despite having an incredibly talented cast and well-written, comedic script.

The movie follows the story of Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) as she transitions from life in the Kenyan wilderness to a new type of jungle: North Shore High School. When she arrives at North Shore, she meets Janis (Auliʻi Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), self-proclaimed “art kids” who take her under their wing. However, when Cady meets the Plastics, she is welcomed into a friend group at the top of the school’s social hierarchy led by the ultimate queen bee: Regina George (Reneé Rapp, who also played the role on Broadway). As the film progresses, Cady begins to develop feelings for Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), which leads to heartbreaking consequences when the Plastics discover her feelings and betray her. This catalyzes Cady’s revenge mission, in which both Janis and Damian aid her, as she attempts to usurp Regina using various methods throughout the film.

After two hours of dancing, singing and broken homecoming crowns, “Mean Girls” ends in a similar, happily-ever-after manner to the originals. So why did audiences, including myself, end up feeling so unsatisfied with their experience?

What made the film, and later the musical, so popular was its pseudo-mythological lens. It painted characters as larger than life, where the Plastics were deified and all others forced to submit to their whims, clinging to their groups for survival. There were cliques cut along specific social lines, among the most memorable being the “sexually active band geeks,” “mathletes” and “desperate wannabes.” The same division occurs in the musical, during Damian’s solo, “Where Do You Belong?” which defines each crowd at North Shore and playfully urges Cady to make herself fit into one to be accepted. 

Although it is undeniable these distinctions are inherently problematic, they codify the spirit of the show as a feel-good production brimming with overdramatized social roles and matched with Tina Fey’s signature directorial wit. Yet, these facets of the production are all glazed over by the need for the remake to appear approachable to its new generation of viewership, thereby undermining why it was such a compelling production in the first place.

It wasn’t just the narrative departure from the original movie and musical that made “Mean Girls” difficult to sit through, but the fact that entire aspects of the production were cut or significantly altered to ensure the new movie would stay within its two-hour runtime. 

This often resulted in unsatisfying shortenings of the original soundtrack, such as cutting Gretchen and Karen’s solos out of “Meet the Plastics,” as well as slowing down high-energy, theatrical moments in the musical, such as “Stupid With Love,” to create a lifeless and dull rendition that makes viewers physically cringe. 

However, that is not to say that there weren’t aspects of the new movie that improved upon the originals. 

In numbers such as “Sexy,” “Someone Gets Hurt” and “I’d Rather Be Me,” the choreography was new and engaging, but also retained the true essence of what it means to be a “Mean Girl.” The film made these songs more decisively feminist and gave characters a never-before-seen depth while staying within the originals’ plotlines. 

Yet, ultimately, these small improvements cannot outweigh the major damage the new film does to both of the original stories. The 2024 production has fallen into an increasingly common trap for new media: attempting to appeal to its audience while not truly understanding them. This makes for a film that disappoints on almost every level, especially to those who have grown up with its predecessors. My advice? The next time the mood strikes for a little bit of mean, save yourself the trip and rent the original at home.

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