#REVIEW: “MEAN GIRLS”
Review by Mr. Will Wong
MEAN GIRLS continues to enjoy an enduring legacy as a cultural phenomenon. First time feature Directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. co-direct the Musical Adaptation of the smash Broadway Musical, which was adapted from the 2004 film directed by Mark Waters. Tina Fey stars in, produces and updates her Screenplay for the Social Media generation here, connecting this ageless story. But how do you retell or improve upon something already is deeply beloved and to be frank, didn’t need musical numbers to win our hearts?
This latest retelling centers again on Cady Heron (Angourie Rice), relocating to America from Kenya together with her mom (Jenna Fischer). Incredibly booksmart, she struggles transitioning to a public school navigating the dynamics, hierarchies and cliques amongst her schoolmates. She must contend with Queen Bee Regina George (Renée Rapp), the most feared individual at North Shore High School. Trying to integrate, Cady finds herself getting in deep, starting to fail her tests and becoming a threat to Regina, losing herself, her values and friendships with those who care about her.
This adaptation of MEAN GIRLS is a dazzling showcase of its immensely-talented Ensemble, each musical number serving to immerse us into these characters’ worlds. Rice brings a vulnerability, drawing us into Cady‘s confusing world. Though it is clear she isn’t a natural vocalist like some of her castmates, she holds her own very well still. Rapp, who also has the distinction of having starred in the Broadway Musical too, is a force to be reckoned with, a commanding force with the presence and vocal chops to carry the omnipresent Regina George, yet when her world unravels we find ourselves invested in her still. Auliʻi Cravalho benefits from an expanded role as the angsty Janis ‘Imi’ike, really getting a chance to do a lot more than the Janis we got to know in the 2004 film. Jaquel Spivey is a delight as the charismatic and sassy Damian Hubbard, who steals almost every scene and balancing the grounded heart and flamboyance that are at the hesrt of his character.
Though times have changed, one thing is for certain. Kids can be cruel and growing-up is still tough. While often we scoff at the thought another remake, MEAN GIRLS‘ message still should resonate with a younger generation that while being a ittle more fierce and aware than the generatioms before it, still need a reminder that actioms and words have lasting impacts, and the only person whose approval matters the most is that of oneself. And OMG, wait till you see the one moment – which we won’t spoil for you – that got everyone in the theatre cheering!
Paramount Pictures Canada release MEAN GIRLS January 12, 2024.