Mean Girls, the original, turns 20 in a few months. The film written by Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock) has aged well, but still dates from another era. We can hardly blame young people today if they are unaware of its existence, even though their parents have seen it in theaters or on DVD.
The feature film was adapted for the stage in 2017 by Tina Fey. Her husband, Jeff Richmond, and Neil Benjamin wrote the music and lyrics, respectively. The show was presented on Broadway and on tour through 2020.
Mean Girls 2024 is the combination of the two works. Except for a few minor changes, it’s the same story. Many lines are the same, word for word. The trio behind the musical, along with directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., skillfully weaved around 20 songs and dance numbers into the story. Mostly funny and catchy, these pieces are beautifully performed by the new cast.
Angourie Rice (the latest Spider-Man trilogy, Honor Society) reprises the role of Cady Heron from Lindsay Lohan. She is just as convincing as her predecessor, even more so during her first steps at North Shore School – although less credible when she “plasticizes”. Cady grew up with her mother (Jenna Fischer) in Kenya and knows nothing about the law of the high school jungle. His first friends, Janis (energetic Aulj’i Cravalho) and Damian (hilarious Jaquel Spivey), teach him the basics of survival. When the Plastics trio, led by Regina George, as popular as she is feared, invites Cady to dine at their table, a sociological experiment ensues. Actress and singer Reneé Rapp, who starred in the musical, succeeds Rachel McAdams in the role of Regina. More intimidating than mischievous, she shines every time she sings and her voice has nothing to envy of that of Lorde or Billie Eilish.
Bebe Wood is not as present on screen as Gretchen Wieners and thus seems more withdrawn, while the other Plastic, Karen Shetty, played by Aventika, takes up more space, but does not always reach the target. Her number on sexy Halloween costumes is, however, very entertaining.
Smartphones are obviously omnipresent, as are social networks, added to the scenario. Not only are they not used excessively, but they also give rise to good gags and partly replace Cady’s narration of the original.
Principal Duvall (Tim Meadows) and Miss Norbury (Tina Fey) remain at North Shore School, but the diversity of its students is frankly broader. Again here, we do it naturally without ever pressing it.
Female solidarity – or lack thereof – remains at the heart of the story. The book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, which deals with relationships between young women in high school, inspired Tina Fey in 2002 and its subject is still as relevant as ever.
You could compare this new version of Mean Girls to a school reunion. Certainly, the students have become younger rather than older, but there is this comforting familiarity that makes us both realize that time is passing and that we can make up for it in an instant.