Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Tina Fey
Director:  Mark Waters
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  96 Minutes
Release Date:  September 21, 2004

“So, if you’re from Africa…why are you white?”

“Oh, my GOD, Karen…you can’t just ASK people why they’re white!!”

Film ***1/2

Mean Girls is the funniest high school comedy since Heathers.  ‘Nuff said?

Okay, I’ll say more…I haven’t laughed so loud, so hard, so often at a single movie in as long as I can remember…and dang, it felt good.  Cathartic, really.  This is a film that is gleefully wicked from start to finish, and isn’t afraid to present a dose of comedy on the edge of a straight razor.

Sixteen year old Cady Heron (Lohan) spent twelve of her young years in Africa with her zoological researching parents and being home schooled, but now that the family has returned to the States, it finally means her first foray into public school.  And needless to say, she probably sees more wild things in her first day of school than she did her entire life in Africa!

Socially awkward is an understatement…poor Cady can’t understand why she can’t get up and go to the restroom when she needs, let alone the new high school world of cliques.  The royalty of her school is a group of three girls dubbed ‘The Plastics’:  ditzy blonde Karen (Seyfried), perpetual gossip Gretchen (Chabert), and the cold, calculating leader, Regina (McAdams).  They’re the ones the other girls hate, but also want to be like.

When Regina takes a liking to the new girl, poor Cady has no idea what’s in store, but she learns quickly in a crash course how to walk, talk, and think like the most popular girls in school.  At first, she uneasily goes along at the prompting of two art student friends as a means to find out what goes on in the inner circle of The Plastics, but soon finds herself way over her head when she gets a crush on a handsome boy in her math class, who just happens to be (gasp!) Regina’s ex-boyfriend.

When the gloves come off and the polished buffed nails get revealed, will our sweet innocent Cady be turned into fresh tiger meat by her newfound ‘friends’?  Or has Cady learned a little bit more than she’s let on about how to be a mean girl?

The plot is easily sketched, but it alone doesn’t constitute half the movie’s entertainment value.  The script, penned by Saturday Night Live alumnist Tina Fey and based on a real collection of non-fiction vignettes from girls in high school, is filled with sharp observations, witty ideas, and an ability to explore the social rituals of high school in a realistic, though completely hysterical way.  Maybe that’s the point…looking back at what we did to get along in school really is enough to make us laugh, even if we cry first.

Some of the best bits include how Cady turns the tables on Regina’s constant desire to be thinner, or the way she tries to win the boy’s affections by pretending that he’s better in math than she when he’s really clueless, the school talent show, the final dance…and oh, yeah, the typical phys ed coach who has to give the class on health management (“If you have sex, you WILL get pregnant, and you WILL die!!”).  Even Cady’s parents are a scream (“Where’s Cady?”  “She went out.”  “She’s GROUNDED!” “Does…that mean she can’t go out?”).

But to delve into too many details would rob new viewers of the pleasure of discovering the movie’s diabolical twists and turns and its revelations of black humor.  I’ll instead just say that with the barrage of mostly mindless, immature gross out teen comedies of late, it’s an absolute pleasure to find one that actually has a brain in its head and that assumes its audience has one, too.  Mean Girls will induce torrential amounts of gut-busting laughter…and best of all, you won’t feel bad at yourself for laughing afterwards.

BONUS TRIVA:  Director Mark Waters and star Lindsay Lohan worked together before, on the surprise comedy hit Freaky Friday!

Video ****

This is a stunning anamorphic transfer from Paramount (full frame version also available).  The colors are rich and vibrant, the detail level from the foregrounds to backgrounds of every scene is sharp and striking, and no compression, bleeding or artifacting exist to mar the imagery.  Top notch.

Audio ***

The 5.1 soundtrack is lively and dynamic mostly owing to the music score, but there are a few big scenes (including a big hallway brawl) where all channels slip into the action.  Dialogue is clean and concisely delivered, and crossover signals are smooth and flow evenly, with good amounts of dynamic range.

Features ****

This special collector’s edition is loaded with hours of goodies, starting with an enjoyable commentary track from director Mark Waters, writer/co-star Tina Fey, and producer Lorne Michaels.  Three production featurettes (viewable together or separately; your choice) showcase the cast and crew and delve into bringing the vision of Mean Girls to the screen.  There is a good blooper reel, nine deleted scenes with optional commentary from Waters and Fey, three hilarious interstitials, a trailer, and plenty of previews for other Paramount titles.  By the way, I have to say that the trailer is TERRIBLE…someone in marketing obviously didn’t want young audiences to know that this WASN’T just another mindless teen flick!


Mean Girls means business when it comes to serious laughter.  This movie is a wicked delight from the word go, with a great cast, sharp script, and delightfully truthful insights into the social order of high school.  Arguably the funniest film of the year, if not of the last several.  Highly recommended.

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