Mean Girls is a 2004 American teen comedy film directed by Mark Waters and written by Tina Fey. The movie is based in part on Rosalind Wiseman's non-fiction self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes, which describes female high school social cliques and the damaging effects they can have on girls.

Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels produced the film; Tina Fey, screenwriter and co-star of the picture, was a long-term cast member and writer for SNL. Although set in Evanston, Illinois (a wealthy Chicago suburb), the film was mostly shot in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The film stars Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tina Fey, Lacey Chabert, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett and Amanda Seyfried (in her film debut), and features appearances from SNL cast members Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer and Amy Poehler. The film marks Lohan's second collaboration with director Waters, the first being Freaky Friday, released a year earlier.

Released on April 30, 2004, the film grossed $129 million worldwide and developed a cult following. A direct-to-video sequel, Mean Girls 2, premiered on ABC Family (now Freeform) on January 23, 2011. The musical adaptation of Mean Girls premiered on Broadway in March 2018.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Sixteen-year-old homeschooled Cady Heron and her zoologist parents Betsy and Chip Heron return to the United States after a twelve-year research trip in Africa, settling in Evanston, Illinois. On her first day of attending a public school, North Shore High School, Cady attempts to make new friends, but to no avail. The next day, she meets and befriends Janis Ian and Damian Leigh. They educate Cady on the school's various cliques and warn her to avoid the most popular and infamous one, the "Plastics", which is led by fit queen bee Regina George and include the insecure but rich Gretchen Wieners and sweet but dimwitted Karen Smith. The Plastics take an interest in Cady after defending her against a sexist classmate, and invite her to sit with them at lunch. After learning of the invite, Janis asks Cady to befriend them and tell her everything they say.

Cady soon learns about the "Burn Book", a scrapbook the Plastics have made that is filled with rumors, secrets, and insults about other girls and some teachers at school. Using the book, Janis devises a plan to get back at Regina but Cady is reluctant, thinking Regina is a good friend. She becomes attracted to Regina's ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels, and purposely fails math in order to have an excuse to talk to him. Regina finds out about Cady's crush on Aaron and jealously steals him back at a Halloween party by kissing him in front of Cady. This spurs Cady to fully commit to Janis' plan to cut off Regina's "resources": involving breaking Regina and Aaron up, tricking Regina into eating "Swedish nutrition bars" that actually make her gain weight, and turning Regina's fellow Plastics against her. In the process, Cady unwittingly remakes herself in Regina's image, becoming spiteful and superficial, and abandons Janis and Damian.

When Regina is finally made aware of Cady's treachery, she retaliates by spreading the contents of the Burn Book all over the school, quickly inciting massive socially motivated brawls throughout the halls. To avoid suspicion, Regina inserts a fake label of herself in the book in order to blame Cady, Gretchen, and Karen, the only female juniors not mentioned in the book. Karen convinces the school's principal, Ron Duvall, that they did not write the book, who soon quells the fighting and gathers all of the junior girls in the gymnasium. Math teacher Ms. Norbury, whom the Burn Book defamed as a drug dealer, makes the girls face the ways they all treat each other and apologize to each other and the teachers; the plan sees success, as friendships are rekindled. When Janis' turn comes, she defies Norbury, confessing her plan to destroy Regina with Cady's help and openly mocking Regina, drawing praise from other students Regina bullied. Pursued by an apologetic Cady, Regina storms out of the school and is struck by a school bus, breaking her spine, and rumors spread that Cady pushed Regina in front of the bus.

Shunned by her peers and grounded by her parents, Cady takes full blame for the Burn Book. After making amends with Regina, she joins the Mathletes in the state championship finals to make up for the math tests she failed. Cady answers the tie-breaker correctly, and they win the championship for the school. At the Spring Fling dance, Regina's new boyfriend Shane Oman is elected King, while Cady is elected Queen. Onstage, Cady declares that all of her classmates are wonderful in their own way, snaps her plastic tiara, and distributes the pieces to other girls in the crowd. She then reconciles with Janis, Damian, and Aaron, and reaches a truce with the Plastics.

The Plastics disband over summer vacation: Regina joins the lacrosse team to deal with her anger, Karen becomes the school weather reporter and Gretchen joins the "Cool Asians" clique. Aaron graduates from high school and attends Northwestern University, while starting a long-distance relationship with Cady, who visits him during the weekends. Janis begins dating Mathlete Kevin Gnapoor, whom she initially disliked. As Cady reflects on the societal peace that has taken over North Shore High, a group of new "Junior Plastics" has arisen, and Cady imagines them being hit by a bus like Regina was.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Lindsay Lohan as Cady Heron, a 16-year-old girl who transfers to a public high school after being homeschooled her whole life in Africa.
    • Jessie Wright as 5-year-old Cady.
  • Rachel McAdams as Regina George, a rich popular teenager. Regina is Janis's ex-best friend and the leader of The Plastics.
  • Lacey Chabert as Gretchen Wieners, a member of the Plastics who only wants Regina's acceptance.
  • Amanda Seyfried as Karen Smith, the airhead best friend of Regina and Gretchen.
  • Lizzy Caplan as Janis Ian, a goth artistic girl who befriends Cady and hatches a plan to take down Regina. Janis is Damian's best friend and Regina's ex-best friend.
  • Daniel Franzese as Damian Leigh, Janis and Cady's gay best friend who is flamboyant and musical.
  • Jonathan Bennett as Aaron Samuels, Regina's ex-boyfriend, and Cady's love interest.
  • Rajiv Surendra as Kevin Gnapoor, the "hormonal Mathletes president" who is attracted to Janis.
  • Tina Fey as Ms. Sharon Norbury, the school calculus teacher.
  • Tim Meadows as Principal Ron Duvall.
  • Amy Poehler as June George, Regina and Kylie's irresponsible mother.
  • Ana Gasteyer as Betsy Heron, Cady's mom.
  • Neil Flynn as Chip Heron, Cady's dad.
  • Daniel DeSanto as Jason, Gretchen's unfaithful boyfriend.
  • Diego Klattenhoff as Shane Oman, a football player who has an on-and-off relationship with Regina.
  • Alisha Morrison as Lea Edwards
  • Julia Chantrey as Amber D'Alessio
  • Dwayne Hill as Coach Carr
  • Jonathan Malen as Kristen Hadley's boyfriend

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box office[edit | edit source]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $24.4 million from 3,159 screens at 2,839 theaters in the United States, ranking #1 at the box office and averaging $8,606 per venue. The film closed on September 9, 2004, grossing $86.1 million domestically and $43 million internationally for a total worldwide gross of $129 million.

Critical response[edit | edit source]

Mean Girls received generally positive reviews; critics lauded McAdams' performance and labeled the film as Lohan, Seyfried and Caplan's breakthrough roles. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 84% based on 187 reviews, with an average rating of 6.95/10. The site's critical consensus states "Elevated by a brilliant screenplay and outstanding ensemble cast, Mean Girls finds fresh, female-fronted humor in the high school experience." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post stated that it "boasts a one-two-three punch in star Lindsay Lohan, screenwriter Tina Fey and director Mark Waters, and, indeed, it delivers a knockout". The screenplay was highly praised by critics with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calling it "comic gold". In November 2012, Rotten Tomatoes included the film in its 'Top 50 Greatest Teen Comedies' list.

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

Mean Girls: Music from the Motion Picture

Stand-alone sequel[edit | edit source]

Main article: Mean Girls 2

A made-for-television sequel, Mean Girls 2, was premiered on ABC Family (now Freeform) on January 23, 2011 and released on February 1 on DVD.

The film is a stand-alone sequel and the plot does not continue the story from the first movie or have the same cast members with the exception of Tim Meadows who reprises his role as Principal Ron Duvall. The film is directed by Melanie Mayron and stars Meaghan Martin and Jennifer Stone.

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