Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
|Musical Comedy Adaptation
|1 hr. 52 min.
|Year of Release:
January 12, 2024 (wide release—3,791 theaters)
A girl that was homeschooled thinks she is missing out on valuable public high school experience
Coming of age in very worldly environments
Issues with high school girl cliques and social hierarchies
Elite group of popular girls that mistreat others and sinful, foul-mouthed and vicious teenage bullies
Sabotaging others for revenge
Why is LYING a serious sin?
This film seems to celebrate excuse-making, rather than actual repentance and proper apology that honestly seeks forgiveness
Worldly values versus true Christian values
Obsession with sex
Learn to see through the fake and “plastic” views common in teenage society
How can I know what is right from wrong? Answer
Importance of seeking wisdom and Godliness rather than worldliness
My friend sleeps around. Now people think I do. How do I fix my reputation and help my friend? Answer
What about Gays needs to change? Answer —It may not be what you think.
GAY—What’s wrong with being Gay? Answer —Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born Gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
Angourie Rice … Cady Heron
Reneé Rapp (Renee Rapp) … Regina George
Jon Hamm … Coach Carr
Tina Fey … Ms. Norbury
Jenna Fischer … Ms. Heron
Ashley Park … Madame Park
Auli'i Cravalho … Janis ‘Imi’ike
Christopher Briney … Aaron Samuels
Busy Philipps … Mrs. George
Avantika … Karen Shetty
Bebe Wood … Gretchen Wieners
Tim Meadows … Principal Duvall
Jaquel Spivey … Damian Hubbard
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Arturo Perez Jr.
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|Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS
Also see review of “Mean Girls” (2004)
Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) could probably tell you everything there is to know about the jungle and living in it. After all, she and her mom have spent most of her life in Kenya. Cady, however, feels like she is missing out on something: people. Sure, she has gotten to know some of the locals in Kenya, but she wants to get the high school experience that her mother probably received. Her mother receives the message loud and clear, “You’re right, you need to be around people your own age and start receiving the whole high school experience. So I’ve accepted a teaching position at Northwestern University.” Off to Chicago Cady goes!
Fast forward to Cady’s first day at North Shore High School. Remember, Cady has never had an authentic American high school experience. She has no idea that she can’t just get up and use the bathroom whenever she wants, that teachers have all these rules, there’s these bells you have to listen for, and what’s worse, trying to figure out who to hang out with. Luckily a couple people come to her rescue and become her first real friends, Janis Surkisian (Auli'i Cravalho) and Damian Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey). “We’ll give you the lay of the land. You can hang with us if you want,” they tell Cady.
Lunch time comes and Cady encounters a group of girls. But not just any girls, the most elite group of girls at North Shore High, The Plastics. They are the most popular girls in school and if you get in with them (I mean students practically worship these ladies), you’re set till you graduate. The Plastics are led, however, by the meanest, cruelest girl in school, Regina George.
Regina eyes Cady in the distance. “Why don’t I know you? You must be new?” Soon, Cady is allowed to be part of The Plastics, but Janis has a better idea. She tells Cady she should spy on The Plastics and only pretend to be part of the group, that way they’ll have “411” on The Plastics and how to bring them down to everyone else’s level.
But Cady is about to discover that popularity always comes at a price and in some cases that price is a rather, uh, enlarged ego and that enlarged ego may just turn Cady into one… mean… girl.
I’ll go on record and state that I know for a fact that this movie was definitely not made with me in mind. I’ll get that out of the way, right off the bat. I’m also very much aware that, in the comments section, there are going to be viewers who may disagree with a lot of what I’m about to say here, and I’m okay with that. I’m here to provide you with my insights, take them or leave them.
I remember when the original “Mean Girls” came out. Lindsay Lohan was a household name at the time and everyone wanted to see any film that starred her in it, especially a comedy. She had made Disney and family films up to this point, and this was about the point where she was trying to dive into more, shall I say, “maturely-themed” films. “Mean Girls” (the original film) was the stepping stone.
“Mean Girls” (2004) at the time did give us all some reminders, of course, about the dangers of temptation, fame, anger, jealousy, and several other themes that resonated with growing up as a teen just trying to survive high school. As another reviewer pointed out, while these themes are nice (and perhaps admirable) to address, the oversexualization of women that occurs on screen, especially when teenage girls are involved, overshadows any positive messaging the film offers.
Case and point, in the “Mean Girls: The Musical” (2024) there is an entire song, called “Sexy,” that discusses and goes into great detail about how women and young girls should go to great lengths to wear as many “sexy” outfits and costumes for men as they can (lingerie, sexy Halloween costumes, etc). I think this generation forgot that the word “sexy” literally means to look so beautiful that someone wants to have sex with you (by the way, if you want to know what God says about sex, some verses I suggest you look at are, Genesis 2:24, Hebrews 13:14 and ESPECIALLY Matthew 5:28).
Sexual lust outside of marriage—Why does God strongly warn us about it?
Purity—Should I save sex for marriage?
Is there a way to overcome excessive lust for sex?
What is sexual immorality?
How can I deal with temptations?
How far is TOO FAR? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the CONSEQUENCES of sexual immorality? Answer
I’ll go into this in more detail in the Problematic Content section below, but the sexual content in “The Mean Girls Musical” (2024) is exhaustive, and frankly, frustrating to this reviewer. As myself and other reviewers have pointed out, people are either talking about who they want to have sex with or when they can have sex, some are even seen having sex, girls are talking about their bra sizes, outfits are either too short or see through (on purpose). People are even called horrible sexually explicit names like sl*t, like it’s no big deal.
What frustrates me just as much though is that, at the end of the film (and trust me this doesn’t spoil anything), no one really learns anything. I mean not really. No one is really reprimanded for how they behave or horribly treat one another, especially for things that are written in the “Burn Book” (a notebook that contains absolutely disgusting, horrible rumors about teachers and students that The Plastics make up about them). When one character learns a “lesson” from her lies and deceits (and they are massive), all of the characters that are affected are just like “Okay, sure, we trust you again,” like nothing happened.
Take all that aside, “Mean Girls: The Musical” does have some moments that shine. The music is modern and compliments the musical well, mainly hard and soft rock numbers, with some songs that gave me goosebumps (like the creepy “World Burn”) and even one that is truly inspirational (“I See Stars”). The vocals are relatively strong from most of those who are on screen. The acting performances are also solid, and it was nice t see Tina Fey and Tim Meadows reprise their roles (there are even some surprise cameos, but I won’t spoil that for anyone).
*Caution some spoilers may be ahead. Particularly in the Sexual Content portion.*
SEXUAL CONTENT: Very Heavy to Extreme. A song titled “Sexy” lists all the scandalous costumes adolescent women can wear on Halloween, and we see a teenage girl in each one. The dance number that accompanies this song is very sexual, and one girl flips up her skirt to show off her underwear. A guy tries to embarrass Cady on her first day by stating that he can guess any girl’s bra size if she jumps up and down. (Regina humiliates the boy for being so crass, but not before Karen, one of the other Plastics, asks him to guess her size.)
One clique is described as “horny,” which is followed by a shot of the whole group kissing. Some characters graphically describe female anatomy. Another couple barges into a bedroom at a house party, intending to have sex, but they’re turned away since the room is already occupied (though the couple inside is only talking). We hear that Karen has had sex with 11 people, and Regina insults her for this. In one song, Regina puts a guy’s hand on her chest, which he quickly yanks away.
There are myriad LGBT students at North Shore. Damian is described as “too gay to function.” When he’s instructed to pick a French name for French class, he lists women’s names instead of men’s, all of which are rejected by his teacher. He goes into the girls’ bathroom on occasion. And he talks about “hetero allyship,” stating that he’ll support Cady’s crush on Aaron. Same sex couples of both genders flirt and dance together. Several students appear to be trans. At a dance, there are some girls wearing suits and some guys wearing dresses. And many of these characters are included in the kissing couplings mentioned above.
HOMOSEXUALITY—What’s wrong with being Gay? Answer —Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born Gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about Gays needs to change? Answer —It may not be what you think.
When Regina learns that Cady likes Aaron, she starts dating him again, marking what she perceives as her territory. However, Gretchen, another Plastic, reveals that Regina is cheating on Aaron with another boy, and Cady shares this information with Aaron in the hopes that he’ll ditch Regina for herself. Gretchen is devastated when a guy she’s sort of dating hits on Cady. Later, she spots another girl “crotch-sitting” with him (the boy is sitting on a table with the girl on a bench in front of him, her shoulders between his legs). The Plastics scare the other girl off, and Gretchen takes her place. (Later on, Gretchen dumps him when she realizes that he is just using her and only considers her a standby option if needed.)
Sprinklers soak a character while she poses for Homecoming pictures. A camera focuses on her in slow-motion as she flips her damp hair and moves her hands over her body, which teen boys ogle over. But the water also causes her makeup to run, which other girls in her grade begin to mimic.
We see a list of “safe sex” options written on a whiteboard, including abstinence (which the teacher states is the state-approved method), condoms, pills, vasectomies and IUDs. The teacher of this class is woefully misinformed, first misspelling the word “vasectomy” and later writing “hormones” as “whoremones.” The bathroom pass for this class is also, quite pointedly, a wooden carving of a sperm whale.
A mother is another problematic adult. She makes several inappropriate comments to The Plastics, including one about their school district having the “hottest guys.” And later, she poses provocatively with a girl’s date. When a group of boys perform a rap with inappropriate lyrics (and a dance involving pelvic thrusts) at the school talent show, they’re cut off by the principal. However, when The Plastics come out in revealing Santa outfits shortly after, performing an equally promiscuous dance to a Christmas song, they’re allowed to continue. (Though Cady’s mom is appalled.) *SPOILER WARNING* We hear that a character came out as Gay to Regina when they were in the sixth grade (by putting a rainbow pin on a stuffed animal). Regina was initially supportive. However, she kissed the character during a game of Spin the Bottle to get a boy’s attention. And after that, she claimed the character was obsessed with her and started calling her cruel nicknames, demanding that others do the same. *END SPOILER*
NUDITY: Most outfits are form fitting and low-cut, emphasizing cleavage. Midriffs and short skirts are common. Bras are often visible, too, and one girl purposely reveals hers because she’s “going for a look.” We also see some naked teen boys wrapped in towels when a girl opens the door of the boys’ locker room. A teen couple is caught in a compromising position, half-dressed (the boy is in his boxers, and we see the girl’s bra). Additionally, in Regina’s introduction song, she undoes her jacket to reveal cleavage, singing a line about her breasts. She also sings a line stating that the whole school “humps her leg” like a dog. As Cady gets pulled into the world of The Plastics, she ditches her modest flannels and hiking boots for high heels and miniskirts.
VIOLENCE: Someone speaks about opening a character up and ripping out their innards as revenge. Two people are hit by a bus—one in a montage and the other person for real, though in the second scene the camera quickly pans away. Someone falls over and hits their head on stage during a talent show. When the Burn Book (mentioned earlier) is released to the school and rumors start to spread, students are seen violently attacking each other. A rumor goes around that someone pushed another student in front of a bus (this is a false claim). Someone tries to help another student off the table and when the person gets distracted the student falls. Someone is accidentally hit in the chest. Someone breaks a vase at someone’s home during a party. We learn that someone purposely lit someone’s backpack on fire with a Bunsen burner.
VULGARITY: Obscene gestures are used numerous times in the song “Raise Your Middle Fingers” (some are offscreen, so I couldn’t get a count but probably in the range of 4-5 times during the song), Mother-F**ker (bleeped out) (1), Fugly (a combination of the f-bomb and ugly) (1), T*ts (1), B*stard (1), D*ck (1), D*cks (2), B*tch (10), B*tches (1), Sl*t (1), Sl*tty (1), Sl*t-shaming (1), “Hairy n*ps” (1), S*cks (1), Sh*t (4), Turd (1), A**hole (2), Cow (1). Someone is told they are garbage. Someone is claimed as someone else’s property.
DRUGS: One group of students at school are noticeably high on drugs. Someone compares a student’s last name to an illegal drug. A teacher claims she is a pusher, that she pushes people and students. When a student hears this and tells her friends, they think the teacher meant she is a drug dealer and that it should be written in the Burn Book. This rumor is then spread around the school and students approach the teacher looking for drugs. The teacher also mentions her house was later searched by the police. Someone mentions they are on a lot of pain meds due to an accident.
ALCOHOL: Teens are seen drinking heavily during a house party. Someone is rumored to have alcohol in their inhaler. Someone mentions teachers got wasted while chaperoning a school function.
WOKEISM: A teacher accuses Cady of stealing jobs from teachers since she was homeschooled (though the teacher is joking, Cady becomes noticeably uncomfortable after being called out on her first day).
OTHER: The Plastics are cruel girls, not just to those around them but to their own friends as well. They mock and debase Cady multiple times in the film, pointing out her flaws and embarrassing her. Regina is also cruel and heartless to those around her. When Cady asks for her help, she sabotages Cady’s chance at happiness. When things don’t go her way, she wants to watch the world burn and she plants the Burn Book in school to create chaos. Cady’s other friends, Janis and Damian, are no better. They want her to spy on The Plastics so they can make fun of them later and do anything they can to make them look bad. Teenagers are also extremely rude to their parents. (Regina says she forced her parents to give her the master bedroom of their house.) People lie. A girl gaslights her ex-boyfriend, pretending to be the victim. Janis and the school principal both purposely mispronounce Cady’s name. Someone gambles.
A student blocks Cady from sitting at a desk in class, forcing her to sit on the floor instead. During lunch on her first day, many more students prevent her from joining their tables, and Cady eats her lunch in a bathroom stall as a result.
Somehow in the midst of all of this, there are some very thinly laid lessons that can be found in “Mean Girls: The Musical.” The largest that of being true to yourself and accepting who you are. Characters come to realize that they don’t need to try to fit into cliques to matter, they can “shine” (as the closing song “I See Stars”) just as they are.
My first real introduction to Mean Girls: The Musical (not the movie) was about 2 years ago when it was touring in Rhode Island. Up until then, I had no desire to attend and only went to see the musical because former students of mine said it was one I really had to see for myself. So I went, very guarded and very hesitantly. Needless to say, I walked away from the theater that night extremely uncomfortable.
Walking out of the theater after watching the Mean Girls musical movie adaptation, I felt all those things all over again, only this time it felt amplified. For one thing, the movie certainly added more advocacy for LGBTQIA+ characters and situations that the stage musical only slightly touched upon. The film has FAR more vulgarity and profanity than the stage musical did, and the sexual content definitely increased for the film, as well (maybe that’s just my imagination, but I doubt it).
Many teenage girls are going to beg and plead with their parents to see “Mean Girls: The Musical.” My advice is simple: don’t take them to see it. The small lessons it contains are overshadowed by all the negative content. This film is not the kind of example young girls need to see on screen, where women are seen as nothing more than objects and are overly sexualized. The vulgar language alone should be enough to deter you from taking children to this film. Skip it entirely.
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