New Mean Girls Film Fails to Recapture Magic of Original
In 2024, the beloved 2004 teen classic Mean Girls received an attempted revival with a new musical film adaptation. Directed by Arturo Perez and starring Renee Rapp, Alyssa Calo, Angourie Rice and more, this modern reimagining aimed to translate Tina Fey’s clever writing and dynamic characters to a flashy Broadway-style production.
However, despite the talented cast and catchy premise, the resultant film sadly fell short of expectations. Harsh reviews have criticized its weak songwriting, uncomfortable humor, and failure to capture the spirit that made the original so impactful. As a diehard fan myself, I entered the theater hopeful but left severely disappointed.
In this critique, I’ll break down the key places where this new Mean Girls musical floundered in its attempt to follow in Fey’s footsteps. Fair warning to fans of the film and musical genre – this review pulls no punches.
Renee Rapp’s Regina Lacks Rachel McAdams’ Bite
Let’s start with the ‘Queen Bee’ herself – villainous it-girl Regina George, immortalized by Rachel McAdams’ snarky performance. Here, Renee Rapp takes on the role with plenty of aesthetic accuracy but little of the charming venom. Her musical numbers fall emotionally flat, lacking both McAdams’ entitled sass and later vulnerability.
Rapp simply seems uncomfortable getting as mean-spirited as the part demands. Her line delivery carries no sense of backhanded hilarity or menacing edge. As an actress, Rapp has clear talent evidenced on Broadway. But her screen presence fails to pop as effectively, especially in contrast to her predecessor.
Supporting Cast Outshines Leads
While Rapp’s Regina underwhelms, some side characters provide delightful moments that actually expand the source material. Specifically, Janis and Damian, played energetically by Alyssa Calo and Jonalyn Saxer, steal their scenes with quippy chemistry.
Their musical improvisations on the original characters go full tilt into unabashedly weird humor that somehow works. These exaggerated takes poke fun at musical theater tropes without losing Fey’s trademark satirical bite. Their scenes recall the original’s comedy glory days rather than straining for jokes that just don’t land.
I also applaud the choice to give Karen Smith more stage time, with Avantika Vandanapu heightening her dim-witted innocence for laughs. However, Karen’s featured number involving bizarre party visuals crosses into too cringey even for this franchise’s standards.
Angourie Rice Feels Uncomfortable as Cady
In an already shaky cast, lead Cady Heron stands out as particularly ill-fitting in this adaptation. Essayed perfectly originally by Lindsay Lohan, Angourie Rice lacks the goofy charisma and slow-burn cunning that gave Cady her dynamic edge.
Rice simply seems stiff and disengaged in numerous musical sequences that demand more personality. Her line reads feel stilted next to characters pulling out all the caricatured stops. For a lead role that keep plot wheels spinning, she disappointingly offers more distraction than enjoyment.
Studio Mix Flattens Underwhelming Music
As this film’s defining shift from the original, the integrated musical numbers should be where it truly soars. Instead, they consistently underwhelm due to abysmal mixing quality that flattens vocals and instrumentation. The songs possess none of the catchy hooks found even in average musicals, recalling a low-budget first take rather than polished Broadway belters.
Maybe some moments clicked well on a live stage. But adapted to film, performances feel jarringly sparse and lacking energy. Overall, it seems the production bit off more than it could chew in attempting flashy group choreography and technical feats from theater. The result looks more embarrassing than entertaining compared to the tightly-written humor holding up everything else.
Retreads Iconic Moments Without Improvement
Cringiest of all are the numerous scenes that directly recreate exact lines and events from the original film sans any attempt at new interpretation. Certain iconic moments, like Cady’s wide-eyed response to the Kalteen protein bar, feel borderline plagiarized beat for beat. Other scenes like the girls’ phone call three-way simply fall flat without the sharp delivery of McAdams and Lohan.
This feared straight rehash remains an ever-present flaw sabotaging most lackluster remakes that fail to bring something fresh. Clumsily reheating classic lines smacks of lazy pandering to fans rather than offering a lively remix. Witty writing like Fey’s demands skillful performance to land the satirical punches – skill this script leaves no room to demonstrate.
This Mean Girls musical adaptation stays remarkably faithful to its too-big-to-fill predecessor, including both celebrated moments and regrettable missteps. Glaring flaws like uneven acting, cringey visuals, and rehashed jokes leave far too little humor hitting its mark. With hardly a unique aspect beyond the musical format itself, lightning fails to strike twice for the Plastics crew.
Perhaps with some recasting, songwriting revisions, and above all – more confidence to creatively break from Fey’s shadow – this promising concept could get closer to Fetch status. As is though, it feels tragically Gretchen Wieners, trying its best but missing that essential sparkle. We may have to accept that capturing Mean Girls’ magic again was simply not grool.