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Mean Girls (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary from director Mark Waters, producer Lorne Michaels and screenwriter Tina Fey; 3 featurettes; Blooper reel; Deleted scenes; Trailer.

"I THINK that girls are ingenious in how they find ways to sabotage one another in these invisible, unseen, hurtful ways," observes Tina Fey, head writer and co-star of teen flick, Mean Girls.

Yet, her insights make for a wonderfully acidic High School comedy, which works out as a cross between Heathers and Thirteen for the teen market.

Based on the book, ‘Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence’, by Rosalind Wiseman, Mean Girls is the type of film which arrives like a breath of fresh air amid the current crop of stale campus comedies, expertly tapping into the bitchy hierarchies of adolescents.

It’s a message movie, of course, but its fun lies in its ability to attack its subject matter with such venom, making it a far more absorbing, and, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, variation on a well-trodden theme.

The story revolves around Lindsay (Freaky Friday) Lohan’s budding maths genius, Cady Heron, as she embarks upon her first days at public high school and quickly falls prey to the psychological warfare and unwritten social rules that teenage girls face.

Initially rejected by everyone but a possibly lesbian art student, Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan), and her overweight, gay, best friend, Damian (Daniel Franzese), Cady suddenly finds herself being ‘recruited’ by a trio of beautiful, power-hungry girls, known as the ‘Plastics’, who are ruled by ‘Queen Bee’, Regina (Rachel McAdams).

The trio in question rule by fear and intimidation, so Cady seizes upon the opportunity to infiltrate and carry out a little fun espionage of her own.

But when she falls for Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron (Jonathan Bennett), she becomes the unwitting victim of Regina’s back-stabbing and resolves to get even, continuing to hang out with the group until she can wreak her own form of revenge from within.

In doing so, however, Cady begins to become the one thing she loathes, and loses sight of her own friends, forcing her to confront her own moral values along the way.

And while the resulting picture may sound a little preachy, Mean Girls is made all the more notable for the way in which it consistently remains entertaining and funny, without becoming overly manipulative.

Fey, who is a Saturday Night Live performer, keeps her script nicely acerbic and mostly intelligent, refusing to dumb things down too much, and avoiding too many cheap gags.

She knows her target audience will be mostly the sort of people who populate the movie, yet allows them to laugh at the absurdity of their own rules and regulations, while also adding something for the parents/grown-ups to enjoy.

And Mark Waters’ direction is such that the movie zips along at a fairly brisk pace, so that there is always another gag waiting in the wings, to replace the memory of those that don’t work.

The principal performers acquit themselves well, with both Lohan and McAdams making convincing enemies, while the support cast is almost uniformly excellent - with Fey, herself, displaying a nice line in deadpan humour as a maths teacher, Franzese super-camp but hilarious, and Tim Meadows walking away with practically every scene he occupies, as the straight-talking Principal Duvall.

It may cater for a niche market, but it hits its target audience with all the accuracy of a bullseye and is, like, way better than could possibly have been imagined when you first read the synopsis.

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