Saturday, May 17, 2014

27. Mean Girls (2004)

Code-name: So Fetch!

Director: Mark Waters (also behind "Freaky Friday," "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" and my #85 film "Just like Heaven")
Writer: Tina Fey
Type: high school, comedy


The Plastics
Cady Heron- Lindsay Lohan
Regina George- Rachel McAdams
Gretchen Weiners- Lacey Chabert
Karen Smith- Amanda Seyfried

"The Greatest People You Will Ever Meet"
Janis Ian- Lizzy Caplan
Damian- Daniel Franzese

Hot Man Candy
Aaron Samuels- Jonathan Bennett
Shane Omen- Diego Klattenhoff

Kevin G- Rajiv Surendra

The Teachers
Ms. Norbury- Tina Fey [SNL alum #1]
Mr. Duvall-Tim Meadows [SNL alum #2]
Coach Carr- Dwayne Hill

The "Cool Mom"
Mrs. George- Amy Poehler [SNL alum #3]

The Herons
Mr. Heron- Neil Flynn [aka The Janitor from "Scrubs"]
Mrs. Heron- Ana Gasteyer [SNL alum #4]

Honorable Mention [astonishingly uncredited]:
Glen Coco- David Reale


I know! I missed the 10th year anniversary of this movie's release by 2 weeks... I'm just hoping that people aren't so sick of all the movie talk from two weeks ago that I won't get any comments on this :-P

Lindsay Lohan got me here... and is one of 100's of reason I always come back

I loved her in "The Parent Trap" remake (the original pales by comparison cuz I saw that version first).
I couldn't wait to see "Freaky Friday" because it was the first movie I'd seen her in since. After loving it, I got the soundtrack and got highlights in my hair.
Loved her in "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen," a movie all the critics hated but I could totally relate to. Also got the soundtrack (liked it much more than "Freaky Friday")

I bought both of her albums and loved them both. Even wrote an entire album fic around "Speak." Plus she worked with great songwriters like John Shanks and Kara DioGuardi (those years, I listened to a lot of Ashlee Simpson and Michelle Branch).

I did not see "Mean Girls" in theaters, but I did rent it from Blockbuster as soon as it came out...
it was so awesome that I HAD to watch it a second time before I had to return it. And that's something that didn't happen often.

Now, when it comes to Lindsay, I've seen all of her movies except for the most recent ones, "Liz and Dick" and "The Canyons" (still planning on the latter at some point). I'm a huge fan and still am a huge fan.
I read all kinds of headlines about her, but never read a single article. With the industry of tabloids and the TMZ, I didn't know what to believe, so I waited to get some truth. Got that just recently with her doc-series on OWN. It had its ups and downs, yes, but I enjoyed every minute of seeing her for realz. [FYI, not a typo]

Hands down, though, this is my favorite of her movies. Probably my favorite performance of hers. case nobody noticed the omission, this was one soundtrack I didn't get... I don't know why I never bothered :-P maybe I should just to complete the set.

The Story

Before I get into the 100's of other reasons why I love "Mean Girls," I'll go through the main plot for those who don't know (in which case, you've been missing out BIG TIME).

Up until this year of high school, Cady Heron was homeschooled by her parents while they lived in Africa. So this was her first year of actual public school. As expected, her first day didn't go well.

Then her next day, she meet the duo of Janis Ian and Damien who showed her the ins and outs of North Shore High School and its clique system. At lunch, she winds up sitting with The Plastics, the exclusive group of mean girls that rule the school.
For whatever reason, they recruit her to join their group and Janis wants in on all the gossip (most of which comes from the notorious "Burn Book").

But when Cady falls for Regina's ex-boyfriend, Aaron, and Regina steals him back, she and Janis brew a plan to overthrow the queen bee.
One by one, they cut off her "resources": turning Aaron and the other girls against her and tricking her into gaining weight.

In doing so, Cady becomes the new queen bee and morphs into an even worse version of Regina George... all kinds of crazy ensue and the clique system at the school warrants investigation from the teachers. Especially after the Burn Book's contents are made public.

The 100's of Reasons.. Some Closer to Home Than Others

For me, this movie has a little bit of everything. I gravitate to certain movies because they have clever writing. It's best when it's a little something different, things I haven't experienced before and commentary on things I've often thought about but never thought other people did.
I gravitate to movies because they have memorable characters. Cady is relatable to anyone who's in a new place and has trouble making friends. Then they go through a transformation when they meet the right people (Janis & Damien) and when they meet the wrong people (Regina and The Plastics). As she says in the final scene, through the course of "Mean Girls" she goes from being "homeschooled jungle freak to shiny plastic to most hated person in the world to actual human being"... and throughout this journey, I don't know about anyone else, but I'm pulling for her every second of it.

Years later, I would find my own Janis and Damien in my college besties, Sam and Dave. It took me a while to realize the connection, but it is so true. Not just because they relate to each other the same way and they have similar body types, but Sam accepted me into her friend circle when I didn't have anybody...
This came about more than halfway through my college experience but better late than never. Once I accepted that friendship into my life, everything else fell into place. They were also the people I turned to when I had guy trouble... or rather dealing with the painful reality of harboring a secret crush and wanting to be the #1 girl in said crush's life.

But, I digress...

All the characters are so well defined that what they do is predictable but we love them for it.
We recognize that as much as Gretchen grows to hate Regina, she still wants to be part of her life because it's better to be Plastic than not.
We know Karen is the easily swayed dumb girl, but we find her endearing for it.

Of course I relate to the clique system at the school. I was one of those people who really didn't have one. I was an outsider. Yeah, I was in drama class, concert choir and companies of high school musicals, but I was never really a part of those. I was either alone or I was in my own social circle that didn't belong to any given clique. Except for college where I had my friends in our animé club that I hung out with every now and then too. They happened to be friends with my friends so it worked out really well.

The other easily relatable part of the movie for me is the guy trouble. Cady wanting to be with Aaron Samuels. I absolutely get that, wanting to find excuses to talk to him and such. But I never went so far as to dumb myself down just to achieve that.
That's just stupid... plus I know my folks would kill me if I let my schoolwork slip over a boy of all things.

The Plastics have their own code of feminism. It's really interesting how they make Cady over when they bring her into their group, what that does for her image, how she carries herself, but it's also a relationship that turns toxic from overexposure. But I guess that's understandable: Cady never being in public school before is a clean slate ready to be molded and shaped into something different.

Even more interesting is how smart Cady is when she's not dumbing herself down for Aaron Samuels. Ms. Norbury keeps pushing her to join The Mathletes because she's just that good at calculus. Everyone keeps telling her it's Social Suicide.

Of course... the best part of this movie is the quotes.
We all have our favorites.
So I absolutely MUST give props to Tina Fey in her screenwriting debut. I haven't read the source material, the nonfiction book "Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence" by Rosalind Wiseman... although I should.
I missed her run on SNL by a couple years. I started watching after she and Jimmy Fallon left and just before Kirsten Wiig and Seth Myers left. But from start to finish, there are so many good lines. The degrees of funny vary from straight-up hilarious to slow-burning hilarity... gotta love that variety.

...found this out after watching the special features... Tina Fey didn't just write it, but she loved this book so much that she approached Lorne Michaels about adapting it to a movie. So really, there'd be no "Mean Girls" without Tina Fey.
I salute and thank you for that!

Also interesting is that this movie was R-rated originally and trimmed to PG13... some jokes were changed and other scenes were rewritten

And it's not every day where almost every line in a movie is this quotable and it gets to a point where they're iconic... becoming Internet memes and taking over Facebook and Twitter.
To loosely quote "Legally Blonde," I thrive on inserting movie quotes into everyday life... whether people get them or not. So movies like this are what I LIVE FOR. 8-)

Sadly, "fetch" never happened and I never tried to make it happen. Although I did say how the American Idol producers were trying so hard this year to "make fetch happen" with Sam Woolf, pushing him as the designated hottie until he went home in 5th place.
But probably the most popular line is "you go, Glenn Coco!"

The most iconic moment in the movie was me is "Jingle Bell Rock" where The Plastics are dressed in Santa outfits doing the sexy dance... once I even watched this scene on Christmas day because I just couldn't help myself. Great stuff, even cooler that Cady thought to sing the song after they lost the boom box. Lindsay's got a great singing voice and I still hope for another album to happen.

Also love how Janis insists on calling Cady "cad-ee" instead of the way it's really pronounced ("kay-dee")

The Cast

It's so strange that I'm ending with the cast when that's usually the first thing I got into with my movie reviews.

Any SNL fan notices the excess of alums cast in this movie as the adults. It took me a few years to realize that was Amy Poehler as Mrs. George and just the other day, Ana Gasteyer as Cady's mom.
When this movie came out, everyone knew Tina Fey from SNL. I knew this without even seeing the show. But in her writing and with this character, just love watching her. She's engaging, she's good-hearted and she has just the right amount of sarcasm.

In name only, I recognized Jonathan Bennett as one of the various guys cast as JR Chandler on "All My Children" after Jesse McCartney left (missed him by a couple years) until they finally ended up with Jacob Young.
...with the web-based reboot, I don't care much for the new JR. If he just accidentally shot himself in drunken grief in the "AMC" finale, everyone would be happier...

And Lacey Chabert I knew then as the voice of Eliza Thornberry in "The Wild Thornberries."

Everyone else, I really didn't know. This movie, for me, was about Lindsay Lohan. It was about the story and the memorable characters. Then with the different names, I had my eyes and ears open for them in other projects.

This only really extended to Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried. Both have done great movies I love coming back. Some, not so great.
It took me a little while to get in my head that Amanda is actually really bright in real life because she was so conceiving as the dumb girl in this movie. She was one of the better parts of the film adaptation of "Mamma Mia" (which I have some strong opinions about for a later date) and was one of 3 reasons I had to see "Les Miz" (the others: Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway).

Coming Soon

Next week... I guess "2 weeks" is the common factor with everything here.
2 weeks ago, I reviewed "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
and next week I'll go into the Wes Anderson movie solely responsible for me going to see it.

Now that's a unique movie experience, unique look, unique combination of puppetry and animation... and another great all-star cast.
And at the helm... George Clooney 8-)

Pretty much gave it away, didn't I? I don't really care. What's done is done :-P

No comments: