Directed by: Mark S. Waters
Written by:Rosalind Wiseman
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Tim Meadows, Lizzy Caplan
Released: June 24, 2004
Grade: A-

Sure it’s the school holidays but Mean Girls will lure more than just interested teenagers into the movie theatre.  Already, it’s one of the surprise hits of the year in the States.  It opened with a huge $24m weekend back in early May and has grossed over $80m to date.  Very impressive for a film costing just $17m and carrying few known stars.

The centre of the story is Cady Heron (Lohan), an American girl who has lived in Africa all her life and been home-schooled by her two parents.  With her mother accepting a new job back home, Cady finds herself attending a real school for the very first time.  Now in the 8th grade, she’s about to enter an unknown world where hormones are racing and bitchiness is at an all time high.

After a rough first day, Cady makes friends with Janis and Damien – two kids who are socially unpopular and often the subject of ridicule.  Not long after though, she is approached by the three coolest girls in the school and offered a place into their friendship group.  Regina, Gretchen and Karen are known as the “plastics” and their popularity earns them both the envy and the ire of almost every other student.

Seeing through the façade of these superficial girls, Cady, Janis and Damien come up with an idea to get revenge and expose them for the “mean girls” that they are.  Cady will become their best friend, gain their trust and then expose their weaknesses and hidden secrets.  It’s certainly not the maturest method and a series of surprising twists and turns take the film into a direction you may not expect.

Sure it’s entertainment but I love the underlying subtext here.  It’s not a stereotypical scenario with definitive good girls and bad girls.  There’s a lot of grey in the story and the characters are often dance around the fine line between good and evil.  Let’s just say you may not always been cheering for the same character.  Such scripts are very rare – particularly in the teen genre.  The final scene is a doozy.

There are lessons in maturity but what won me over was the great comedy.  Some of these characters are hilarious and the pick of the bunch is Tim Meadows (The Ladies Man) as the school principal.  He’s one of the few sane characters in this crazy, mixed-up school and his one-liners sparkle (particularly at the school dance).  I’ve thought about providing examples but you just have to see his lines in context to fully appreciate.

The casting of Lindsay Lohan in the leading role is somewhat ironic.  Last Christmas, she was involved in a huge public feud with another teen actress, Hilary Duff.  Both had dated the same young musician and when Lohan attended the premiere of Duff’s Cheaper By The Dozen, Duff’s mother tried to have Lohan evicted with cries of “Get her out!”  The two have since made up on live television but I do find the whole situation very amusing.

Ah, but this review isn’t going to generate into trashy tabloid journalism.  I’m here to talk about Mean Girls and the news is all good.  Director Mark Waters has put behind the horrors of 2001’s Head Over Heels (one of the worst films I have ever seen) and put a teen film on the market that warrants a look.