"Mean Girls" sits pretty as a fun, energetic musical version of 2004 comedy

Mean Girls (2024)

Don’t call it a basic-bitch remake! 2024’s "Mean Girls" is a big-screen version of the 2017 stage musical, itself based on 2004’s justifiably adored Mark Waters-directed, Tina Fey-scripted comedy, itself based on Rosalind Wiseman’s book “Queen Bees and Wannabes.” (There’s even a musical note in the title card, just so we’re clear that people sing and dance.) The Lindsay Lohan-Rachel McAdams vehicle is so sharp and has made such a cultural imprint, but like all movies, it’s not above getting a welcome update for another generation. This “other” "Mean Girls" is fun enough, energetic enough, and gosh darn it, you can like both!

Angourie Rice makes for an adorable and intelligent Cady Heron, a formerly home-schooled math whiz whose zoologist mother (a wonderfully cast Jenna Fischer) has moved them from the jungle of Kenya to the suburbs of Chicago. North Shore High School has its own food chain, as introduced by her two new friends, free-spirited artist Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and “too gay to function” Damian (Jaquel Spivey). Of course, Cady gets adopted by the Plastics, led by fearsome queen bee Regina George (Reneé Rapp), and crushes hard on Regina’s recent ex, the dreamy Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney). You know the rest, except this time, TikTok and musical numbers!

The just-go-for-it energy of directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.’s vision and their entire ensemble bursts through every frame. Once again, Tina Fey writes the script, which generally retains all of the narrative beats (the Plastics’ Winter Talent Show performance goes down a little differently) and many (but not all) of the signature lines from her original script. Above all, the film thematically underlines how young women need to support one another instead of stab each other in the back or be cruel in a “Burn Book.”

The 2004 film may have been perfectly cast, but this "Mean Girls" also excels in the casting and performances. If anyone could fill Rachel McAdams’ pink heels as Regina George, her name is Reneé Rapp, and she is a dazzling superstar with powerhouse vocals. Having played the character on Broadway, Rapp is fully comfortable on screen and relishing the deliciously nasty part; she’s so fierce, self-assured, and full of edge and attitude that you don’t even want to blink when Rapp is on-screen. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: B

Paramount Pictures released "Mean Girls" (112 min.) in theaters on January 12, 2024.