Mean Girls (2004)

Rating: B

Dir: Mark Waters
Star: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Lacey Chabert

It’d be easy to dismiss this as Heathers Lite – nor would it be inaccurate. The struggle of a girl who desperately wants to fit in with the popular girls, and is prepared to go to any length to do so, even risk losing her own personality? F’heavens sake, the director’s brother Daniel wrote Heathers! Yet if this doesn’t take the concept to its extreme, blood-spattered or R-rated conclusion, it does hit satisfactorily hard, and largely avoids the sentimentality found in Waters’ previous film, Freaky Friday. It helps to have a script by Saturday Night Live‘s queen of venom, Tina Fey (also playing a math teacher); several other SNL regulars appear, most notably Tim Meadows as the principal.

However, they’re the background; the story belongs to Cady (Lohan), who starts high school after growing up in Africa, and finds that was less of a jungle. She is befriended by the Plastics, the top clique, led by Regina – that’d be Latin for ‘queen’, played by McAdams – and is convinced by goth chick Janis Ian (Caplan; Chris noticed a song by the original Janis Ian on the soundtrack) to destroy them from within. But first, she must become one. Of course, it ends with life-affirming messages about accepting people for who they are; until then, however, it’s mostly a nasty, bitchy, ho-bag fest. Our daughter said it was too accurate to be funny; if so, I’m amazed anyone graduates high school without therapy.