Viking Night: Mean Girls
By Bruce Hall
November 15, 2017
I recently cleaned out my basement and discovered what happened to the last two DVDs I received from Netflix back in January. I have to admit, it was a good feeling. Almost as good as finding a ten dollar bill in last winter’s jacket, or a relatively recent bag of skittles under the seat of my car. I decided I would make the best of the situation and write my next column on the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. That was a mistake.
Freaky Friday is somewhat amusing, but certainly not Viking Night material. But now I had Lohan on the brain, so surely there was something Li-Lo related I could slip in at the last minute?
The Parent Trap was right out, because as much as I love Dennis Quaid, he never manages to be in anything I want to see. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen simply wasn’t going to happen tonight. That’s precisely the kind of Disney film I try to avoid. And I believe Lindsay once starred on screen with a Volkswagen, but to acknowledge that would be to concede that for the longest time, before my age reached double digits, my favorite movie was The Love Bug.
Let us speak no more of that.
But hey, look - Mean Girls! I usually can’t stand Rachel McAdams, but for the longest time I thought she was Jennifer Garner in this, so that’s perfect! Also, Amanda Seyfried made her big screen debut! America’s Big Sister Tina Fey wrote the screenplay! Is Lizzy Caplan underrated because Hollywood hates brunettes? You decide! Remember Lacey Chabert from Party of Five? No? That’s okay, because who doesn’t love them some Amy Poehler?
And as long as executive producer Lorne Michaels is alive, I assume Tim Meadows and Ana Gasteyer will always have a place to crash.
But the real star is Fey’s screenplay, and not just because that kind of rhymes. Mean Girls is a high school “dramedy” in the vein of, well, every defining film of the genre. This is a stylized version of high school where kids are without question mean to each other. But it’s in that slightly self aware, mildly homogenized manner that only vaguely resembles the random acts of brutality that take place in an actual high school. Imagine “Easy A” with just a dusting of “Sixteen Candles” crossed with “Heathers,” minus all the gruesome homicide.
Throw in Tina Fey’s trademark self-deprecating wit and no joke, you’ve got yourself an all time-classic.
Mean Girls starts out as a fish out of water story, with 16-year-old Cady Heron (Lohan) having spent most of her life on the African savanna with her nerdy scientist parents. Because reasons, the Herons move back to the United States, where Cady is enrolled at the kind of high school that only exists in an Amy Heckerling movie (or upper middle class suburbs like the one where I grew up). North Shore High boasts a visually diverse student body from a variety of apparent backgrounds, who all mostly sound like the same person.