Overview: A teenage girl (Lindsay Lohan) struggles to find her place when she is introduced to the cattiness and cliques that make up high school girl world. 2004; Paramount Pictures; rated PG-13; 97 minutes.
Fetch Is Still Happening: Where Mean Girls excels is in its innate ability to relate to the mind of the teenage girl in a manner that is now proven timeless. Your average teenage girl has two all-consuming burning desires: 1) Popularity. 2) Hot Boyfriend. These desires haven’t changed over the years and they probably never will. Even though the basic premise of high school cliques and new girl makeovers isn’t a new concept (Clueless, She’s All That), Mean Girls’ candid and intelligent inspection of these aspects of the teen girl’s existence is the reason why this movie remains so relevant a decade later. The ongoing comparison of teenagers to wild animals is scarily yet hilariously accurate. The exaggerated situations and cruelty contain enough truth that they never really seem too far-fetched.
Evil Takes A Human Form: The Rachel McAdams we know and love from a full resume of playing the smitten and pure object of romantic affection is hardly recognizable as the ultimate Queen Bee, Regina George. Everyone knew a Regina George in high school (if you can’t figure out who your school’s Regina George was, then it was you, bitch). Even though you hate her, you still want to be her, or at the very least be near her. She’s contagious, poisonous, and addictive. She’s the queen of manipulation, and it’s truly fascinating to watch her operate. Even when she gets hit by that bus, it’s hard to decide whether to cheer or mourn the end of an era (albeit only temporarily, because as we know a new year brings a new queen).
You Smell Like A Baby Prostitute: We also get Lindsey Lohan in her prime, right at the crest of that transitional wave that carried her from adorable child star into a desperate hot mess (who really “accidentally” leaks a sex list with those names on it?). We root for her in Mean Girls, not because she’s a hero, but because she represents all of our conflicting high school emotions (and in narrower form, our emotions as women) simultaneously wanting to take down and take over the plastics.
On Wednesdays We Wear Pink: Much of the credit for the timeless success of this movie is directly attributable to the screenplay written by Tina Fey. Not only does she have a complete understanding of teenage angst, she has created (with inspiration from the book by Rosalind Wiseman, of course) a script so chock-full of trademark phrases that 90% of the subsequent conversations between the female millennial population are directly influenced by this movie. And yeah, maybe some of the word vomit still leaks into the conversations we have now. And maybe the social politics of those onscreen teenagers isn’t limited to high school. Maybe women my age sometimes see Mean Girls as both satire and strategy guide. But you’ll never know. I mean it. You can’t sit with us…