Mean Girls

Written on the flight from London to North Carolina


The title Mean Girls conjured up images of a thoroughly depressing drama involving troubled young women, no doubt set in a prison or something like that, when I first heard about it earlier this year. I knew this couldn’t be entirely true since the poster had a good-looking teenage cast on it, but the images never went away. In the end, it came down to either watching this movie or Shrek 2 for the third time, and there’s only so much Mike Myers I can take in one sitting.

In reality, Mean Girls is a teen comedy firmly set in the Clueless and Ten Things I Hate About You mould, except with less romance and more female cattiness. Indeed, the heroine looks identical to Bianca Stratford from Ten Things (the dizzy one) She may even be the same person. Shorn of access to IMDB I have no way of verifying this.

Since I missed the first third of the film, you might want to look for another review if you want to know what the film is actually like. Still, I can tell you that in most ways it fulfils the time-honoured criteria of modern teen comedies, such as:

* having an impossibly attractive ‘teenager’ cast
* female lead being highly attractive yet her nasty nemesis is even more attractive, thus rendering the lead a more sympathetic and attainable character (in the male population’s eyes)
* lots of amusing angst
* high school setting
* heroine who starts out innocent, gets corrupted and then gets back on the tracks much wiser for it
* romantic interest who looks alarmingly like Tom Welling of Smallville fame (again, he may be Tom Welling)
* indie ‘alternative’ sidekicks
* various comical slapstick moments
* understanding yet slightly clueless parents

However, it differs from the standard in some pleasing ways. The heroine is a maths whiz and there are various parts of the movie where she is shown doing actual maths and answering difficult calculus questions; score one for the scientific community! Another welcome change is the absence of the gross humour perfected by the American Pie movies. Along with this comes slightly (very slightly) more subtle and intelligent humour.

Unfortunately Mean Girls suffers from a lack of focus. The main storyline (new girl at school teams up with uncool people to bring down ruling nasty-girl clique) is accompanied by various subplots that pop in and out of significance, surrounded by a cast too large for the movie’s length. It also suffers from an almost amusing lack of originality; quite apart from the formulaic plot, every single scene seems familiar.

Aside from these forgiveable problems, it’s a likeable movie that requires no brain power and unusually features maths. Definitely worth renting, and ideal for a date (providing that the world of dating hasn’t changed in the last two years).

Epilogue: IMDB reveals that Tom Welling was not in this movie, and the lead actress was not in Ten Things I Hate About You.

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