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Mean Girls: It’s A Musical, Duh

Mean Girls Poster

Everybody knows the cult classic Mean Girls. The 2004 film was jam-packed with classic references such as “On Wednesdays we wear pink” and a full cast of popular actors including Lindsey Lohan, Rachel McAdams, and Amanda Seyfried, remains timeless and iconic today. On January 12, 2024, audiences were shocked by the release of a Mean Girls remake starring actors such as Angourie Rice, Renee Rapp, and Christopher Briney. But this, as the trailer put it, “isn’t your mother’s mean girls.”  The twist? It’s a musical.

Audience reactions to the film have been going viral. For example, a TikTok video depicting viewers who “groaned and laughed” when characters burst into song was reposted and viewed almost 36 million times on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter). Their disappointment can be chalked up to the fact that most people walked into the theater unaware that there would be songs at all. Audiences should not be blamed, though, for their ignorance about the film’s contents. The official trailer for Mean Girls didn’t contain any of the film’s own music, and was alternatively set to Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!”. According to Forbes, movie marketers have been reluctant to emphasize the actual musical aspect of films as musicals have generally tested negatively with trial audiences, and other recent Broadway-to-screen adaptations, including Dear Evan Hansen (2021) and Cats (2019), failed at the box office.

Fans of musical theater, on the other hand, might be less surprised, as 2024’s Mean Girls took inspiration from not only the 2004 film but the 2018 Broadway show. Most of the songs were taken from the production, and some of the actors in the film, such as Renee Rapp and Ashley Park, began on the stage. The movie did make some changes from the musical as well. Many songs were removed or remixed for the purpose of the film. According to Gold Masque director Rebecca Corrado, “Right now in the film industry, people are so lacking in original material to produce [musical adaptations], they rush the process in order to either save money or get more people to bring money in. Mean Girls was purposefully not marketed as a musical because musicals nowadays don’t do as well, and I feel like hiding that fact, and almost making the decision feel like a bad thing, left a lot of room for error.”

Despite varied criticisms, there are equally positive reviews of the film. Ramapo student Lindsey Morrison says, “I have seen the movie and I thought it was a fun, modern twist on the original Mean Girls movie. I also saw Renee Rapp perform the Broadway show and I loved it! I think that the movie was so fun and we got to see how the plastics acted and were portrayed with social media and modern trends!” Many of the cast’s performances, including Renee Rapp as Regina George and Avantika Vandanapu as Karen Smith, were exceptional. Mean Girls also plays on the audience’s nostalgia, bringing back cast members such as Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, and Lindsey Lohan.

Overall, though it sometimes gets lost with what it wants to be, Mean Girls is a fun and nostalgic reboot of a classic film.

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