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2004 Roundup
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"Mean Girls"

Directed by Mark Waters.
Written by Tina Fey.  Based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman.
Starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows and Tina Fey.
Release Year:  2004 
Review Date:  4/26/04

Folks--

My friend Tricia passed along a freebie to go see "Mean Girls" this past week, and without it I would have never gone to check out a Lindsay Lohan film.  But, after a hilarious set of giveaways aimed at the teenage girls that were in my audience courtesy of a local radio station, I have to admit:  "Mean Girls" is a great time at the movies.

Part of this may have to do with the Tiny Fey script; Fey, the lead writer for "Saturday Night Live", injects this teen comedy with some truly hilarious moments.  Cady (Lohan), a 16-year-old that prior to this school year has been home-schooled in Africa, moves to a town in Illinois bent on getting the most out of the high school experience.  She learns that life in American schools takes quite an adjustment period, so in hangin' out with two of the school's outsiders, the slacker Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and the "too gay to be believed" Damian (Daniel Franzese), Cady learns about the school's teachers and its many cliques, chief of which are The Plastics, a three-girl royal circle led by Regina (Rachel McAdams).  The Plastics are every high schooler's worst nightmare:  they're beautiful, rich, self-important and the object of every straight male's affections and female's trendsetting.  And, they're evil--but, Cady is strangely drawn to The Plastics, and in becoming part of their clique, Cady slowly begins to love the lifestyle...but, will it destroy her friendship with Janis?

There's really not too much in the way of drama in Fey's script, based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman.  This is good, because the laughs come early and often, thanks mostly to the hilarious "Oh my God!" acting of the three actresses playing The Plastics, the Damian-Janis-Cady friendship and Fey herself, who delivers as Cady's math teacher who is facing a number of problems of her own.  The kids in my audience seemed to be laughing more than I was, but I was still whooping it up quite heartily myself; in one scene, where Damian is using the women's restroom at the school, a short, pudgy female yells at him

Short, Pudgy Girl:  "What are you doing in here?"
Damian:  "Oh my God!  Danny DeVito!  I LOVE your work!"

And our theater freakin' lost it.  Seriously, the timing on this was straight "Simpsons", it was so spot-on and delivered so quickly.  There are at least a dozen scenes like this; one bit has two Korean women arguing in an assembly (and arguing IN Korean) when one of them just drops it while waving off the other:  "Nigga, please!"  So funny.  Just the IDEA that Koreans might say that to one another was enough for me to burst out with the giggles.

Lohan undergoes a fun transformation from unknowing outsider to clique leader to normal kid in just 90 minutes; director Mark Waters, who also directed Lohan in "Freaky Friday", gets good mileage out of Lohan and all of his actresses, with strong turns coming from the various leads and the male love interest, played by Jonathan Bennett.  Good soundtrack, and the pacing is good; a dance number in the middle of the film was good as well.  Aesthetically, the film was all good.

Save for a consistently profane script (many times, I thought, unnecessary given the target audience) and some scattered moments of "lessons" and "learning" for young people, I was very satisfied with "Mean Girls."  I probably won't see it again, but the experience was niiiiiiice.

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09