Oh, MEAN GIRLS and all of its quotable dialogue and high energy. I love it! I still vividly recall the opening night screening I attended all the way back in 2004 and the loud, laugh-filled reaction from the audience. and love that it still gets quoted and admired after all this time; both being a very funny and edgy comedy but also one that really has something to say about teen bullying and peer pressure. Based on the book Queen-Bees and Wannabee’s Rosalind Wiseman, Tina Fey’s whip-smart script adaptation features Cady (Lindsay Lohan) entering the high school system after living in Africa for many years, and how a lot of youth ideals really never change over the world. The way she assimilates herself into the world is initially through two other students off the social circles and at first pretends to infiltrate The Plastics (the most popular girls in school) and winds up becoming one herself.
MEAN GIRLS featured Lindsay Lohan at her complete peak of her movie career…which all went downhill almost right after the release of this movie, even causing conflict with Fey (I still remember the Saturday Night Live intervention on Weekend Update like it was yesterday). Sad, as Lohan was so talented, funny and enjoyable to see here against a cast who HAS stood the test of time. Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert have all moved on well and became pretty big from this along with Fey, Amy Poehler and many other SNL cohorts.
The movie plays a lot with the teen genre with smart dialogue and a pretty serious subject of bullying and interactions in high school. As someone who was bullied and victimized, movies like this and shows like FREAKS & GEEKS were really effective in bringing these issues into light. Filmmaker Mark Waters also has a good sense of style and direction with some fantasy sequences, split-screens reminding me of its previous-decade cousin CLUELESS. Both movies get the joke of teen comedies.
Of course this movie is dated, with characters talking on landlines (!) and pivotal moments happening on call waiting that oddly I feel will be lost on the smartphone fueled youth of now. Yet a lot of the messages of teen bullying, back-talking and lies/rumours created out of jealousy between youth are still relevant today, and it’s also just so much fun to see a teen comedy have a lot of fun with the genre. MEAN GIRLS was really great to revisit in 2022.
About the Blu Ray Steelbook:
Sadly, despite the awesome “Burn Book” style of a Steelbook re-release, the praise of this disc presentation ends at the quotes and design. Overall, this is a somewhat disappointing release of MEAN GIRLS as this movie needs a full on 4k restoration to play in the 2020s. This is the same, original Blu Ray as before with a somewhat lacklustre 16×9 “full-screen” transfer, mostly because Blu Ray wasn’t around when the movie first came out and most of the release was ported over from its original DVD release.
MEAN GIRLS was very noticeably shot on 35mm film stock, and you can really tell in some of the more interior sequences, especially in its many split-screen sequences of the film grain and intensity of the film stock. Today this would have been shot digitally and probably would have still looked really good, and even so I felt this all could have looked better. And restored.
I was also reminded that the Dolby True HD soundtrack is quite a bit stronger for movies of its genre, with a great balance of music and sound effects. This is one of the lone highlights of the Blu Ray disc presentation.
On the special features these are pretty standard production featurettes and trailers/ad spots. Some of the features don’t condense to 4×3 dimensions either, so it was a bit frustrating to watch these clips stretched out to my 16×9 display. Even for the original release this all felt a bit rushed. Granted, there is an added Apple TV digital copy which is always nice to add to the digital library.
The full list of special features:
• Commentary by Director Mark Waters, Screenwriter & Actress Tina Fey and Producer Lorne Michaels
• Only the Strong Survive
• The Politics of Girl World
• Plastic Fashion
• Word Vomit – Blooper Reel
• So Fetch – Deleted Scenes
• 112, Excellent!
• Mom’s Underwear
• Shoe Shopping
• Tonight I’ll Like It
• Eaten by Cannibals
• Regina in Bed
• Norbury’s Car Explodes
• Cady and Regina in the Bathroom
• New Girl
• Theatrical Trailer
Overall it’s a disappointing release and one that I am holding out for a full on remaster. I am hoping that Paramount does a new 4k disc down the line to give this movie to the HDR generation, and yet if you don’t own a copy yet and are still in the regular HD world, this IS a very nice Steelbook and looks great on the shelf. And if a 4k release happens I’ll happily slip that disc into this Steelbook!
MEAN GIRLS is now available on Blu Ray Steelbook. Our thanks to Paramount for sending along a copy for review.