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  Mean Girls Meet The New Boss
Year: 2004
Director: Mark Waters
Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Neil Flynn, Jonathan Bennett, Rajiv Surendra
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is about to embark on her first day at school. She's sixteen, but had been home-tutored up until now because she grew up in Africa with her zoologist parents; now they have moved back to the United States for her mother's new job and Cady has a whole new world to contend with. She waves goodbye to her mother and father after they drop her off at the school, but almost immediately feels nostalgic for her previous life because all the students are seriously unfriendly. What she needs to do is find a clique to belong to, but what she ends up being is a double agent between proudly outcast kids and the so-called "Plastics"...

Comedienne Tina Fey scripted Mean Girls, basing it on a non-fiction instructional book called Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, designed to help parents help their daughters navigate around high school. The less charitable could have said that it might also have been based on one too many viewings of Heathers, with its popular girls vs unpopular ones and the collaborator, Lohan in the Winona Ryder role, in the middle, but Mean Girls didn't go quite as extreme in its melodrama, never mind its black comedy, as it predecessor.

However, it still scored a good few laughs at the expense of the characters, whether they be the long-suffering teachers (Fey plays Miss Norbury, Cady's math teacher) or the desperately-trying-to-find-their-niche pupils. In a tale of innocence corrupted, Cady starts out naive and hoping to excel in her studies, but when she catches the eye of the Plastics, led by Regina (Rachel McAdams), she is doomed. This is because she has already made friends with Janis Ian (no, not the singer, she's played by Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese), two art class enthusiasts who everyone think are gay (they're half right).

It's Janis and Damian who have persuaded Cady to spy on the Plastics when she is invited to sit with them during lunch break by an intrigued Regina. Unfortunately, as with many double agents our heroine gets muddled as to whose side she is on, and ends up being on nobody's side but her own. At first it seems like a good fit, with Cady bemused by the Plastics' bitchy and image-obsessed ways, and Regina and Janis have a history where Regina spread the lesbian rumours about her even though they used to be friends. American high school is presented as a minefield of unspoken rules (well, some are spoken) and prejudices designed to keep social strata in place.

Cady is as much a victim as an aggressor, but she grows completely preoccupied with Regina, especially when she takes a shine to one of the Queen Bee's ex-boyfriends, Aaron (Jonathan Bennett) who might not be as single as he thinks. This leads to Cady becoming a "clone" of her arch-enemy as she devises various ways to denigrate her, but Regina is a past master and her experience in the field of bitching and bullying will see her gain the upper hand thanks to her big, pink book of gossip. It may back away from being too caustic, but there is an edge to Mean Girls that lifts it above the usual teen comedy, and the keenly-observed acting offers a boost to what could have been hackneyed. The message of self-improvement and just plain treating others better might be corny, but it's better than the alternative. Music by Rolfe Kent.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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