Widescreen: Mean Girls’ Lovable, Narcissist Plastics

Brutal drama and cheeky humor, with a dash of 00s fashion, Mean Girls (2004) as the typical dramatic comedy has aged well with its animated narcissists. Much of the early 2000s still echoes with “fetch”, “you can’t sit with us” and “on Wednesday we wear pink”. Mean Girls is one of those movies that has melted into the pop culture mainstream like butter, and it’s hard to not ignore its whimsical writing and brutal realism of high school drama.

Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), a home-schooled teenager, settles in at North Shore High School quite unexpectedly. She quickly befriends Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese), the social outcasts before being taken in by the Plastics: Regina George (Rachel McAdams), Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried) and Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert). Janis’ plan to get back at Regina George quickly spreads to the whole school as a love triangle emerges and allegiances shift.

Adapted from Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence, Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey brings a zesty new spin to an otherwise boring manual. The humorous comparison of catty exchanges to nature channels’ animal fights, the three-way phone call gossips, and the ridiculous suburban wealthy lifestyle kept the whole hour animated with all the tea.

Rachel McAdams nailed the role of the sassy and manipulative narcissist. It’s no surprise that she continued that intuitive impersonation later, from The Notebook (2004) to Spotlight (2015). It is a young cast featuring several celebrities in their nascent careers, but their acting abilities and similarity in age brought all the color to the plot.

Like many other teenage movies, from The Breakfast Club (1985) to Clueless (1995), Mean Girls brought in another wave of problematic youths in a lively light. In a social media world where self-promotion is applauded, the theme merely changed from in-person to virtual. Perhaps thousands of Mean Girls drama plays out now in your nearest Snapchat story or TikTok feed.

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