Talk about your misleading titles, the girls in Mean Girls, the Tina Fey-scripted, Mark Waters-directed film about a home schooled outsider forced to transverse the social minefield that is public school, aren't mean at all; in fact, they're downright sweet at times. I guess all my years of watching films that do nothing but promote cruelty and violence have clearly have deadened my mean judging abilities, because I desperately wanted to see more than feelings being hurt and reputations ruined. Sure, a character totally gets run over by a bus at one point. However, that was the fault of the bus driver (no motorized vehicle should be going that fast in a school zone). No, catty remarks and unpleasant comments written in a scrapbook don't quite cut it as far as teen-on-teen abuse goes. The fact that Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is supposedly from the continent of Africa was also a bit of a distraction. First of all, Africa isn't a country; if you keep referring to it as a country, more and more people are going to start believing it's a country. Secondly, her accent showed no trace of ever having lived in whatever African country she grew up in. Now, I'm not saying she should have sounded like the female version of Pik van Cleef (Emil Fouchon's principal henchman in Hard Target), but a slight accent would have helped me suspend some belief. Then again, Lindsay Lohan sporting a, oh, let's say, Botswanan drawl, isn't really something I want to see.
Using the harshness of the animal kingdom as a metaphor for the cutthroat atmosphere of your average Toronto high school (again, you can shove as many American flags into the frame as you want, you ain't fooling me), the film earnestly tries to teach us that meanness is wrong. Which I agree it is. But it doesn't exactly make for edgy entertainment.
This apparent softness will no doubt irritate fans of Jawbreaker and Heathers, as the proceedings go all gentle on us pretty quickly. That being said, there are some genuinely funny moments in the film, and plus the colourful outfits worn by The Plastics (an exclusive clique for popular girls) were excessively skimpy and an absolute pleasure to bask in.
The cast of Mean Girls is a mixed bag. In that, it's split down the middle between those who have a gift for comedy and those who don't. Surprisingly, it's Tina Fey and Amy Poehler who are the ones who stink the most at making with the ha-ha. Tina comes off as a self-satisfied know-it-all, and Amy, well, she is just plain annoying as a so-called "cool mom." (What can say? I prefer the random weirdness of Kristen Wiig for my female-based SNL yuks.)
The lead mean girl is played by Rachel McAdams (wearing an ugly blonde wig) and not once did I find her bitchy antics to be amusing. Okay, maybe when she says "boo you whore" to a fellow mean girl. But other than that...
Stealing the show as far as I'm concerned was Amanda Seyfried as Karen Smith, a mildly clueless gal whose breasts know when it's raining. Exhibiting a genuine gift for comedy, the gorgeous, ashen-legged actress does a tremendous job at playing a complete idiot. But not in a crass, unaware Jessica Simpson sort of way. Uh-uh, Miss Seyfried's craft is more akin to the works of Anna Faris and Jessica Cauffiel. I liked how Amanda played Karen as a harmless sycophant (she doesn't do a single mean thing during the entire movie). Oh, and I dug the way she looked in a short skirt, and, of course, as a slutty mouse.
While not quite on the same level as Amanda, a bronze-legged Lacey Chabert does earn some laughs with her character's misguided commitment to the expression "fetch." And former ladies man Tim Meadows has two or three moments of funny as well.
Flirting with a moderate brand of transvestitism was completely acceptable at my high school (earrings, ponytails, pointy footwear, concealed garter belts, etc), but being a card carrying Friend of Dorothy was not groovy at all. Which brings us to the flamboyant resplendence that is Daniel Franzese as Damian, an openly gay student who, along with his butch gal pal, Janis (Lizzy Caplan), helps Cady bring down The Plastics. It's weird, but to see someone so far out of the closet in a high school setting like that was so strange to me (my old-timey school would have ate him alive). Anyway, Daniel is top drawer in terms of cinematic hilarity, as almost everyone of his lines garnered a chuckle, especially: "You go Glen Coco!"
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