Mean Girls is a 2004 American teen comedy film directed by Mark Waters and written by Tina Fey. The film is partially based on Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 non-fiction self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, which describes female high school social cliques and the damaging effects they can have on girls. Tina Fey also drew from her own experience at Upper Darby High School as an inspiration for some of the concepts in the film.
Cady (Lindsay Lohan) is the 16-year-old home-schooled daughter of zoologist parents (Ana Gasteyer and Neil Flynn). They have returned to the United States after residing in Africa for 12 years for their research. Cady is unprepared for her first day of public high school. With the help of Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damien (Daniel Franzese), Cady learns about the various cliques. She is warned to avoid the school's most exclusive clique, the Plastics, the reigning trio of girls led by the queen bee Regina George (Rachel McAdams). The Plastics take an interest in Cady, inviting her to sit with them at lunch and go shopping with them after school. Upon realizing that Cady has been accepted into the Plastics, Janis hatches a plan to get revenge on Regina, using Cady to infiltrate the Plastics.
Having ingratiated herself with the Plastics per Janis' plan, Cady learns about a "Burn Book." This notebook is Regina's top secret notebook filled with vicious rumors, secrets, and gossip about all the other girls (and teachers) in their class. Cady soon falls in love with Regina's ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett), whom Regina successfully steals back from Cady in a fit of jealousy. Hurt and frustrated, Cady continues with Janis' plan, which involves cutting off Regina's "resources," separating her from Aaron, destroying her beauty, and turning Regina's fellow Plastics, insecure rich girl Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and sweet but ditzy Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried), against her. Cady starts feigning failure at math to get Aaron's attention and soon choreographs Aaron's breakup with Regina by confessing Regina's infidelity with another boy. Cady also tricks Regina into eating high-calorie nutrition bars (called Kälteen) by claiming that they actually help one lose weight. She also turns Gretchen against Regina by making her think Regina thinks of Cady as a better friend instead of her.
In her efforts to get revenge on Regina, Cady gradually loses her individual personality and remakes herself in the image of Regina. She soon becomes as spiteful as Regina, abandoning Janis and Damien and focusing more on her image.
Regina responds by spreading the entire contents of her Burn Book around the school, inciting a riot. To avoid suspicion, Regina also inserts a fake label of herself in the book in order to focus blame on Cady, Gretchen, and Karen. The riot is eventually quelled by Principal Duvall (Tim Meadows). Math teacher Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey), who also appeared in the Burn Book in which Cady slandered her by saying that she sold drugs, makes the girls realize that all of them are guilty of hurting their peers. She has each girl confess and apologize to the rest of the girls. When Janis' turn comes, Regina makes an insulting joke about her sexuality, to which the crowd laughs. Janis retaliates by confessing her plan to destroy Regina with Cady's help and openly mocks Regina with the support of the entire school. Regina storms out, pursued by an apologetic Cady, and gets hit by a school bus in her haste. Rumors circulate that Cady intentionally pushed Regina in front of the bus.
Now without friends, shunned by Aaron, and distrusted by everyone at school, even being distrusted by her own parents, Cady decides to make amends by taking full blame for the Burn Book. Though severely punished by her confession, her guilt dissolves and she returns to her old personality. As part of her punishment and her reformation, she joins the Mathletes, which Damien and Regina both described earlier as "social suicide," in their competition. There, Cady has an epiphany while competing against a very unattractive girl, realizing that even if she made fun of the girl's appearance it would not stop the girl from beating her.
At the Spring Fling dance, Cady is elected Spring Fling Queen, but in her acceptance speech, she declares her victory is meaningless: they are all wonderful in their own way and thus the victory belongs to everyone. As a symbolic gesture, she breaks her tiara and distributes the pieces to her classmates. Cady makes up with Janis and Damien, reconciles with Aaron, and reaches a truce with the Plastics.
The film ends with the Plastics disbanding by the start of the new school year: Regina joins the lacrosse team, Karen becomes the school weather girl, Gretchen joins the "Cool Asians", and Cady hangs out with Damien and Janis. Cady reflects that the "Girl World" is drama-free.
Why It Rocks
- The movie presents a clever and well-written story focused on a girl in high school dealing with cliques, boyfriends and agressive teen girl behavior.
- Very funny and memorable quotes like "You go Glen Coco" "That is so fetch" "On wednesdays we war pink", "Boo! you whore" etc..
- Memorable and iconic scenes, especially the scene where Regina gets hit by a bus.
- The film is cleverly fast-paced, meaning many of the scenes go by quick and without being incoherent.
- Top-notch acting.
- Catchy songs, especially Built This Way.
- It made October 3rd, Mean Girls day.
- Likeable and iconic characters.
- Great choreography and music score from the Jingle Bell Rocks scene.
- The "If you're from Africa, why are you white" joke although hilarious seems racist to some people.
- The movie game for the DS was lost and was cancelled as a result.
- It gave us an unecessary straight to video sequel in 2011 with Tim Meadows (Principal Duvall) being the only one from the original movie who returned called Mean Girls 2
Mean Girls received generally positive reviews; critics lauded McAdams' performance and labeled the film as Lohan, Seyfried and Caplan's breakthrough roles. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 84% based on 181 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus states that the film is "funnier and more smartly written than the average teen comedy." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $24.4 million from 3,159 screens at 2,839 theaters in the United States, ranking #1 at the box office and averaging $8,606 per venue. The film closed on September 9, 2004, grossing $86.1 million domestically and $43 million internationally for a total worldwide gross of $129 million.