Mean Girls (2024) promotional image. Credit: Paramount Pictures

“Mean Girls” 2024 is a Fun Romp, But Stumbles in the Music Department

4 mins read

Mark Waters’ 2004 teen comedy “Mean Girls” holds an impact on pop culture that’s still tangible to this day. In response to its popularity, a musical adaptation of the movie debuted on October 31, 2017, and toured on Broadway through 2020. On January 12, 2024, a film adaptation of the musical released theatrically, directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., in both of their commercial debuts. Overall, it’s an enjoyable watch with good performances and energetic visuals, but its music often pales in comparison to the original musical’s soundtrack. 

The movie is highly influenced by modern aesthetics, specifically by the culture of the social media app TikTok; there are multiple montages in the movie using social media as a framework, and the fashion of the movie has been updated to fit modern-day trends. Although it carries the awkwardness most attempts to be “hip and cool” contain, it’s also used in clever ways. For example, to replace the beginning part in “Sexy” where Karen Smith retreats to the wings and then returns onstage, the movie simply has her do another take of the video she’s making. The fashion, too, is inspired from social media, as well as real life celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo.

The standout performances, to me at least, have got to be Auli’i Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey as Janis ‘Im’ike and Damian Hubbard, respectively. They both have a lot of charisma and sell their roles, and their deliveries made me snort more than once. On the other hand, I feel as if Angourie Rice was miscast as Cady Heron. Her performance as a whole feels rather flat, as does her singing. As a result of her poor performance, most of the songs missed their mark with me. Their instrumentals have also been updated to be more modern, but it’s not a change for the better. Many of the songs have been transposed to lower keys, and now lack the grand, sweeping instrumentals that made the songs from the musical shine for me. The change has caused a sense of lethargy to seep into the songs, and in an energetic film like “Mean Girls,” that’s absolutely a no-go. “Stupid With Love” is a particularly heinous example: the quirky, nerdy love song has been shifted to be much more lowkey, which just makes it feel limp, as well as not fitting Cady’s character. 

Not every song is a miss, though. “Sexy” retains its spunky, tongue-in-cheek theme; fitting, since it’s the song in the musical that would arguably adapt most well to being given a “modern” instrumental. “What’s Wrong With Me” is a gentle ballad that serves as a refreshing break from the rest of the film; it’s a softer, slower song that works because it was always intended to be tender and vulnerable. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

If you want a fun watch, for yourself or for with friends, tune in to the film adaptation. If you want better music, however, take a listen to the 2017 musical soundtrack and keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming West End production. It’ll be fetch. 

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