Mean Girls (2024) (4K UHD)

Directors: Samantha Jayne & Arturo Perez Jr.
Screenplay: Tina Fey (based on the stage musical Mean Girls, book by Tina Fey)
Stars: Angourie Rice (Cady Heron), Reneé Rapp (Regina George), Auli’i Cravalho (Janis ‘Imi’ike), Jaquel Spivey (Damian Hubbard), Avantika (Karen Shetty), Bebe Wood (Gretchen Wieners), Christopher Briney (Aaron Samuels), Jenna Fischer (Ms. Heron), Busy Philipps (Mrs. George), Tina Fey (Ms. Norbury), Tim Meadows (Mr. Duvall), Lindsay Lohan (Mathletes Moderator)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2024
Country: U.S.
Mean Girls 2024 4K UHD
Mean Girls

The road to any film is often long and tangled, but the path taken to get to Mean Girls has to be one of the weirdest. It begins with a Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes, which she penned as a self-help guide for parents of teenage girls who were navigating the challenges, pitfalls, and snares of “Girl World.” Tina Fey, who was then the head writer for Saturday Night Live, used Wiseman’s book as the basis for the sharp, incisive, and very funny screenplay for Mean Girls (2004), which helped establish Lindsay Lohan as a major teen star.

Mean Girls was a box-office and critical success at the time of its theatrical release, but like the best teen movies, it truly thrived in its home-video afterlife, where it was repeatedly played and memorized by a new generation of teenage girls (and a few boys) who recognized in it the pains and glories of the adolescent social hierarchy. A decade or so later, the film was turned into a Broadway musical with a book by Fey, lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), and music by Jeff Richmond, Fey’s husband and a former music director for SNL. And, having wound its way from page to screen to stage, Mean Girls, like The Color Purple before it, has now found its way back to the screen as a movie version of the Broadway production. And there is so, so, so much wrong with it.

Let’s start with the casting. One of the things that made Mean Girls work was the fact that the actors playing the lead roles looked and felt like actual teenagers. Lohan was only 17 at the time the film was made, and Amanda Seyfried was 18. And, while Lacey Chabert, Lizzy Caplan, Jonathan Bennett, and Rachel McAdams were in their early 20s, they all looked and played substantially younger. Now, if you look at the cast of the new musical film, everyone is in their early to mid-20s: Angourie Rice, who plays Lohan’s role, was 22 (although she admittedly looks younger). Reneé Rapp, who plays McAdams’s role, which she previously played on Broadway, was 23, but she looks and feels substantially older (unlike McAdams, who could feign innocent, Rapp plays Regina as a snarling beast through and through). The same can be said for Auli’i Cravalho, and Christopher Briney, both of whom were 25. They act and move like older, more seasoned characters, and it feels phony.

Another major loss is the voice-over narration. One of the things that made Mean Girls so funny and evocative and socially meaningful was the voice-over narration by Cady Heron, the new girl in school who had spent her entire life being homeschooled by her academic parents in Africa, and therefore has no idea what to expect in the typical American high school. Cady’s observations were amusingly sociological and helped us to view the film as not just another teen comedy, but rather an insightful peek into the complex strata of teen culture. The musical discards the voice-over and instead relies primarily on songs in which Cady sings about her experiences and insights, but the effect just isn’t the same. While the lyrics are sometimes funny and clever, they fall too neatly into the Broadway musical paradigm, thus robbing Mean Girls of one of the major components that differentiated it from similar films. The need to make time for the musical numbers also means that a lot of character scenes and interactions have been either eliminated or folded into the songs, which is more often than not to the detriment of the story’s development. It ends up feeling like a quickly assembled Greatest Hits package.

As Cady, Angourie Rice is amiable and sympathetic, even as she finds herself in a teen world that is notably more vulgar than the one Lindsay Lohan imhabited 20 years ago. As Regina George, the snobbish queen bee who rules the roost with fear and intimidation, Reneé Rapp feels utterly out of place. She is too hard and vicious to be a teenager; she comes across as an adult playacting (which means she would have been better suited to playing Regina’s mom, who is hopelessly obsessed with lost youth). Regina’s dim-witted best friends, Karen and Gretchen, are gamely played by Avantika and Bebe Wood, but again they don’t come across as actual teens. The inherent artificiality of the musical doesn’t help, nor does the fact that Jeff Richmond’s songs are largely undistinguished pop and rock riffs that evaporate almost as soon as you’ve heard them. Perhaps they clicked on stage, but as transferred to the screen by directors Samantha Jayne (a relative novice) and Arturo Perez Jr. (whose experience is confined almost entirely to Justin Timberlake music videos), the material falls flat. Any time there is a good moment or a snappy line of dialogue, you can be sure it was lifted directly from the earlier film.

That is not to say that effort hasn’t been made. Tina Fey, who again wrote the screenplay based on her book for the musical, reprises her role as dedicated math teacher Ms. Norbury. She tries to update the material while keeping it true to the roots that everyone knows and loves, but the whole endeavor feels forced. Tim Meadows also recreates his role as beleaguered principal Mr. Duvall, and Lohan even makes an appearance as a mathlete moderator. But, it is all too little in the service of a premise that doesn’t take hold. The effort to make the movie musical work on its own terms while still paying homage to the original, often going so far as to recreate scenes in their entirety and reproduce dialogue word for word, is too overtly strenuous to be successful, making this Mean Girls more of a chore than a pleasure.

Mean Girls 4K UHD + Digital Code

Aspect Ratio2.35:1
  • English Dolby Atmos
  • German Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • SubtitlesEnglish
  • “A New Age of Mean Girls” featurette
  • “Song and Dance” featurette
  • “The New Plastics” featurette
  • Extended scene
  • Gag reel
  • “Not My Fault” music video Renee Rapp / Megan Thee Stallion
  • Mean Girls Sing-Along with Selection Songs
  • DistributorParamunt Home Entertainment
    Release DateApril 30, 2024

    The new musical Mean Girls looks very good and pretty much exactly as you would expect it to. Shot and completed digitally, the transfer most likely came from a digital intermediate and represents an exact reproduction of the theatrical image, which is bright, sharp, and very well detailed. Colors really pop, especially with Dolby Vision HDR, which makes those pinks look all the more pink. The musical remake is a more visually adventurous film than the original, which means that the lighting and contrast are more theatrical, all of which is very nicely presented. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is also very good and will please those who are fans of the musical, as the songs have great depth and presence.

    The supplements are fairly typical fodder, although fans of the film will certainly enjoy hearing the cast and crew talk about their experience making the film. The featurettes “A New Age of Mean Girls” (6 min.), “Song and Dance” (12 min.), and “The New Plastics” (8 min.) are pretty self-explanatory. There is also a brief extended scene, a 4-minute gag reel, and a music video for Renee Rapp and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Not My Fault.” There is also a sing-along option with selected songs.

    Copyright © 2024 James Kendrick

    Thoughts? E-mail James Kendrick

    All images copyright © Paramount Home Entertainment

    Overall Rating: (1.5)

    James Kendrick

    James Kendrick offers, exclusively on Qnetwork, over 2,500 reviews on a wide range of films. All films have a star rating and you can search in a variety of ways for the type of movie you want. If you're just looking for a good movie, then feel free to browse our library of Movie Reviews.

    © 1998 - 2024 - All logos and trademarks in this site are the property of their respective owner.