Intelligent and Witty
, 21 Dec 2004
Usually, I find that teen comedy is an enjoyable, but brainless genre. Not that there's anything wrong in that, as it normally makes for fun viewing, but when one comes out that isn't empty in the brain department, it is an event of particular note; and Mean Girls is a film that fits that description. Hollywood's hottest teen starlet, Lindsay Lohan stars as Cady Heron, a sixteen year old home-schooled girl that has lived in Africa all of her life. Because of her life in Africa, Cady thinks she knows about survival, but she's about to learn it all again when she starts high-school for the first time and comes into contact with an A-list clique known as 'The Plastics', headed by the very 'mean' Regina George and her slightly less mean, but very loyal cronies; the very sexy Gretchen Wieners, and Karen Smith. The movie is very obviously written by a woman, and it seems to be geared towards teen girls more than any other audience; but there's still much for other people to enjoy about it.
Mean Girls is keen to draw parallels between how teenagers interact within the society of a high school, and how animals act in the jungle. This is a fair comparison and one that will probably ring true for most people that have attended high school. However, that isn't where this movie's main asset lies; it's the hilarious way that the girls interact with each other that is. The first hour of the movie is hilarious, and it's great fun to sit and watch as the girls manipulate, connive, bitch and back-stab their way through one another. Unlike other teen comedies, such as American Pie; this one doesn't rely on big set-pieces to bring in the laughs, and most of them spring from its witty and intelligent script; and it's funnier for it. However, a great first hour gives way to a rather trite final third, but it doesn't completely spoil the movie. It doesn't quite work because the movie has been living up to its title throughout, so when it stops being mean and starts being sentimental; it doesn't really fit what it's being building up to all the way through. However, the final third does allow the film to bring out its message, which is warm and actually has some meaning behind it.
As mentioned, Lindsay Lohan heads a great cast of young talent. This is my first encounter with this actress, and I'm fairly impressed by what she's done here. Although her performance isn't magnificent, teen starlets have come with an expectation of being rubbish recently, and Lindsay proves this trend wrong here. The rest of the cast is made up mostly of lesser-known teen stars, but all excel in their roles and there isn't a weak link amongst them. The soundtrack to the film isn't particularly good and comprises mostly of teen-friendly fluff songs (including Kelis' extremely rubbish 'Milkshake'), which fit with the film; but you do get the impression that they're just there to please the teen crowd when the film would have been better without them.
Despite some flaws that I've mentioned, Mean Girls still stands out as a refreshing teen comedy. Although it doesn't surpass the film it took influence from; the magnificent 'Heathers' by a long way, it still has some nice moments and a brain to boot
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