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FEATURED MOVIE REVIEW: Mean Girls
John Mulderig
/ Categories: Arts & Culture

FEATURED MOVIE REVIEW: Mean Girls

By John Mulderig/OSV News

NEW YORK. The musical comedy “Mean Girls” (PG-13, Paramount) comes with a more than two decade-long pedigree through all of which one unifying factor can be identified. The film is adapted by screenwriter Tina Fey from the Broadway theater version of the eponymous 2004 film, both of which she also penned.

Fey infuses her script — ultimately derived from Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 nonfiction book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” — with some sharply observed humor. This helps to offset the sometimes over-the-top production numbers by which the movie’s more serious themes are conveyed, with varying effectiveness, under the direction of Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr.

Although this latest iteration of Fey’s tale carries messages that might be valuable for the real-life counterparts of the teen characters who mostly populate it, her dialogue is often unsuitable for them. The production’s treatment of the gay lifestyle among adolescents, moreover, requires mature discernment.

Fresh from the African bush, where she was homeschooled by her unnamed scientist mother (Jenna Fischer), aspiring mathematician Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) is thrust into the social maelstrom of a typical public high school. As she tries to blend in, Cady finds that her new peers are largely divided into cliques, ranging from the jocks to the theater types.

Early on, Cady is befriended by a pair of outcasts, Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey). But she later finds herself torn between loyalty to them and the popularity that comes when the student body’s reigning  — and fiercely intimidating — “apex predator,” Regina (Reneé Rapp), takes her up as a protege.

The fact that Cady has instantly fallen for her new patroness’ ex-boyfriend, Aaron (Christopher Briney), presents a further complication. Will Cady choose to be Regina’s acolyte or will she join Janis and Damian in a conspiracy to knock Regina off her throne?

As Cady wavers, Fey showcases the evils of backstabbing and the merits of self-assertiveness, especially among young women. Yet, though mostly extraneous to the plot, same-sex coupling is frequently incorporated into the proceedings in a way that presents such pairings as a perfectly valid alternative to heterosexuality.

Grown-ups will be used to the sound of that seemingly inescapable cultural drumbeat. But the youngsters who might particularly benefit from the positive aspects of “Mean Girls” may lack the analytical skills to distinguish it properly from the call of the Gospel.

The film contains implicit approval of homosexual activity, a same-sex kiss, more than a dozen mild oaths, at least one rough term, several crude expressions, frequent crass talk and obscene gestures. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults.

(John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter/X @JohnMulderig1.)

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