‘Mean Girls’ musical is kinda grool

The first thing you need to know about the new ‘Mean Girls’ (2024) is that it’s a musical.

In-between most of the plot points of the cult classic millennials know and love, characters will break into song, pivot into dance breaks and sing their feelings.

If that’s grool with you, go ahead and dive in. But if musicals aren’t your thing, you may want to give this one a skip and stream the original.

For the game and notably nostalgic among us, the remake will hit as somewhat bittersweet.

As Tina Fey’s endlessly quoted and entirely meme-worthy 2004 camp comedy continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, the 2024 version may leave you shook by the swift passage of time yet also seem a little redundant.

After all, can one really improve on the iconic introduction of the b*tchy but beautiful Plastics embodied by the legendary ensemble that was Lindsay Lohan, Rachel MacAdams, Amanda Seyfried and meme queen Lacey Chabert?

The answer, in a word, is no.

But that doesn’t mean that the new ‘Mean Girls’ isn’t a fun and entirely watchable mash-up of the 2004 teen comedy and the Broadway musical.

Retreading the familiar ground of the politics of North Shore High School replete with various cliques each cowering below the iron fist of queen bee Regina George, the film begins with culturally clueless and homeschooled Cady Heron just in from Kenya after an excellent Jacquel Spivey and Auli‘i Cravalho end an enjoyable musical introduction.

Taking over from Daniel Franzese and Lizzy Caplan who played the queer, arty and offbeat Damien and Janice in the original, Spivey and Cravalho are the remake’s hilarious and heartfelt narrators while Reneé Rapp as Regina George is an unapologetic baddie for the social media age.

With voices that don’t miss and each scene stealing in their own right, Spivey, Cravalho and Rapp succeed in making the characters their own, while a very likeable Angourie Rice’s Cady Heron leaves something to be desired.

Not as strong vocally and a tad bland in her characterisation, Rice does a decent job but her performance is a bit by numbers. As for Avantika reprising Seyfried’s role of Karen Smith, the star is ditzy, darling and her ‘Sexy’ solo is a high point, while Bebe Wood’s Gretchen Wieners is solid but perhaps not as unhinged as it could be.

Altogether and without too much comparison, ‘Mean Girls’, a cautionary tale, has cleaned up many of its problematic bits but lost some of its edge as it eyes the threats of think pieces, cancel culture and sheer millennial nostalgia.

Though, I doubt you’ll remember too many of the songs that are entirely fun in the moment and the film is in no danger of usurping the 2004 classic, the ‘Mean Girls’ musical is still kinda grool.

– martha@namibian.com.na; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamukaiwa.com

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