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Film: Mean Girls
Cast: Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Auli`i Cravalho, Jaquel Spivey, Avantika, Bebe Wood
Director: Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.
Rating: 2.5/5
Runtime: 112 min.

The original 2004 comedy Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey based on Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 book Queen Bees and Wannabes, and directed by Mark Waters, starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, is reckoned to be a millennial cult classic. Zingy one-liners and star power helped the film coast right into the hearts of its teen fanbase. This latest version from directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., based on the 2018 Broadway musical adaptation of the 2004 film, takes on a fairly refreshing spin away from the original. 
 
Naive Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) is a junior learning to navigate public high school for the first time since previously, she was home-schooled in Kenya by her research scientist mother (Jenna Fischer). Cady finds her first days of school pretty hard to get through but after she is befriended by art freaks Janis ’Imi’ike (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey) who help show her the ropes, she begins to feel a little at home. Janis and Damian often narrate to the audience by breaking into song.  
 
Cady is fascinated by the head of the popular girl clique known as the Plastics, Queen Bee Regina George (Reneé Rapp). Bebe Wood as Gretchen and Avantika as Karen round up the Plastics Clique. When Regina takes a liking to Cady, and invites her to join the Plastics for lunch, the plot kicks up a storm. Little does Cady know that Regina and Janis have a dark history and it could well turn her life upside down.Also, Cady’s crush on her calculus classmate, Regina’s ex, Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney) could also become a bone of contention.
 
This film uses music and social media to highlight the plot beats and character moments that make a significant impression in the story. Cady and Regina’s popularity waxes and wanes at the drop of a hat. Their antics recorded on cell phones, spur countless reaction videos. It’s all done quite well in a visual sense.The songs, though not exactly memorable, manage to convey the right amount of emotion.  Gretchen Weiner’s “What’s Wrong with Me?” is affecting, Janis’ rock anthem “I`d Rather Be Me,” about self-worth, is brought to life through visual flair, “Revenge Party,” sung by Janis and Damian, has a social media aesthetic with vibrant colors and cotton candy clouds while Karen’s ‘Sexy’ at a Halloween house party, stands out for its vivid choreography.
 
Rice has a beautiful voice, but she hasn’t developed her acting skills well enough to stand out here. Rapp and Cravalho though, are really good performers and have the ability to hold you spell bound. Rapp in fact comes in for the major share of eye-pleasing camerawork. Her screen presence is magnified by wide shots and the show of waves she leaves behind every time she crosses a group of students.
 
The writing too is different in some ways. Cliques are described by their inherent nature and not their race. There isn’t much interaction between characters. Humor is missing from most of the one-liners, dancing and singing are presentable and the performances don’t measure up to the original. Overall, this rendition lacks soul. The overarching arc is the same but this film based on the musical based on the original film, doesn’t have the original’s zing. The narrative felt as if it was trying too hard to be funny. It certainly won’t go down in history as something memorable. 



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