> Volume 6 > Number 18


Mark S. Waters

Lindsay Lohan
Rachel McAdams
Lacey Chabert
Amanda Seyfried
Lizzy Caplan
Daniel Franzese
Jonathan Bennett
Tina Fey
Tim Meadows

Release: 30 Apr. 04

Mean Girls


Coming just weeks after the repulsive teachings of 13 Going on 30, the tonic to its Hollywood lies is Mean Girls. Written by Tina Fey, credited as the person who’s been carrying Saturday Night Live on her back for years, it has a wit about it that wasn’t present in Gary Winick’s soft-hearted but artificial teen comedy. Here, the bitches don’t learn to be nice people –- they learn to be bitches who can coexist with the nice people. It’s not such a pleasant idea, but it’s far more accurate.

Mean Girls is one of the smartest dissections of high school put onto film, uprooting the clichés and making them either new or, at least, fresh. The way the screenplay deals with layout of the cafeteria, for example, plays more like a sociological look at gentrification than cliques. Even if I still think the Hollywood obsession with the high school social stratum is perhaps overdone (I should recognize that my somewhat socially integrated background may come in large part from going to a small town school), few films have harped on it without seeming to pleasure in it. Fey likely has some bad memories of her own high school experience, which means that she’s acidic in her relationship with the existence of this social structure, but her talents keep her from turning her irony into numbing hyperbole (Heathers, Pumpkin).

Inspired by the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence, the film does have something of a adult point-of-view, which is reflected both in its references (a character is named Janis Ian), its pangs of parental scare tactics (a little girl’s television watching and emulation is funny but disturbing), and its solid young lead performance by Lindsay Lohan (who previously played an adult in Freaky Friday). Mean Girls, though accessible to most any group, is likely best enjoyed by adults who’ve seen and done much of what is found in this film. There’s no way that a Queen Bee seeing this film will change her ways from watching this, but an old Queen Bee might start to understand what she did wrong so long ago

©2004, David Perry,, 30 April 2004