New Year, New ‘Mean Girls’

Grace Cowger | Mercury Staff


“Mean Girls” (2024) hits theaters 20 years after the original, bringing a revamped and modern look at one of the biggest pop culture sensations of the 2000s. 

The new film is an adaptation of the Broadway musical, adapted from the 2004 original comedy of the same name. “Mean Girls” (2024) released on Jan. 12, starring Angourie Rice, Renee Rapp and Auli’I Cravalho. The movie brings Broadway to the big screen by infusing songs from the musical, while providing a modern update to the original with its wardrobe, cultural references and new faces. In the 2024 adaptation, Regina’s popularity isn’t limited to Northshore High but broadcast to an online following. The use of social media would be a great way to enhance the movie, but in an effort to showcase the expedited speed of online rumor mills, the pacing of the movie ultimately feels a bit too fast. Overall, the movie feels like it could have benefited from a few additional minutes of runtime. Iconic moments from the original, such as the documentation of Regina’s downfall and Cady’s rise to plastic status end up feeling insignificant due to the pace.

The modern look at “Mean Girls” isn’t all bad, however. The updated comedy was probably the biggest surprise of the night. Unlike other films, which create a cringeworthy parody of Gen Z, “Mean Girls” (2024) will actually get young viewers to laugh.

However, the movie works best when it focuses on its core: a musical. The movie breaks out of its plastic shell whenever a musical number comes on. Several Broadway songs were cut from the film, but the remaining ones are treated with care. “What Ifs” replaces “It Roars” as the first solo in the movie, and even though I believe the original song would have been the better choice, Rice executes the new song perfectly.

While I originally didn’t mind Gretchen and Karen’s verses in “Meet The Plastics” being cut, after seeing the rest of the movie, I wished we got to see more of Bebe Wood and Avantika. Woods’s performance of “What’s Wrong With Me?” was visually simple but oozed with emotion and heart and Avantika’s performance of “Sexy” had me laughing and dancing in my seat; both truly embodied the spirit of their characters.

“Someone Gets Hurt”and “World Burn” were two of the strongest performances in the movie, mixing incredible choreography, eye-grabbing visuals and Rapp’s incredible vocal — which captures the same fiery spirit of the Regina George we see in the original. Rapp, who also played Regina on Broadway, did an amazing job portraying the untouchable quality that the mean “it” girl is known for. She brought new life into the character, her performance being the highlight of the movie.  

Janis, played by Cravalho, and Damian, played by Jaquel Spivey, also bring new life to their classic characters. The character of Janis holds the same heart as the original, but with a change in her backstory to provide a new look at a character we are used to. Spivey delivers an equivalent performance as Damian, eliciting more laughs from me than the rest of the characters combined. The duo’s performance in “Revenge Party”was the perfect montage song to push the movie along. It was loud, it was bright and it truly felt like getting sucked into a raging party. Even though I was initially disappointed that Rice wouldn’t be singing Cady’s portion in “Apex Predator”like in the original musical, the choice to give it to Spivey instead only enhanced the duet. 

Despite the cultural importance of the original film, “Mean Girls” (2024) shouldn’t be seen as a sequel or reboot. The musical movie isn’t going for the same early 2000s style comedy that the original has, and at its roots it is a musical. It’s a fun and engaging movie, but by marketing itself as a reboot, it forces itself into shoes far too big to fill.

While it won’t cement itself into the same iconic status that the original has, “Mean Girls” (2024) delivers an enjoyable experience that will leave you laughing and singing along throughout.  


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