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Mean Girls (2004)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/14/2009

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/7/2009

I don't know if I went to boring high schools (that's "schools", as I transferred to a different school for my junior and senior years), but my high school experience were nothing like what I see in movies. In these films, everything seems to be greatly exaggerated, and the students are doing the kind of exciting things that most of the people I know didn't do until college. This distorted image of high school often bothers me, but it did not in Mean Girls, where the exaggeration only adds to the clever and quirky humor in this slick comedy.

Lindsay Lohan stars in Mean Girls as Cady Heron, a teenaged girl who has spent her entire life in African with her anthropologist parents. Her family has now moved to Evanston, Illinois and Cady will be attending public school for the first time in her life. Once there, she quickly learns that high school can be a cruel and lonely place. She makes friends with Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damien (Daniel Franzese), two artsy-outsider types, who educate her about the high school hierarchy, and warn her to stay away from "The Plastics", three ultra-chic girls who rule the school. They are; the Queen Bee, Regina George (Rachel McAdams), the insecure one, Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), and the dumb one, Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried). Through a twist of fate, Cady is invited to have lunch with "The Plastics", and has an opening to join their world. Janis insists that Cady should hang out with Regina and learn exactly what "The Plastics" do so that they can make fun of them. Cady goes along with this plan, but finds herself becoming one of "The Plastics", especially when it gets her closer to Aaron (Jonathan Bennett). As Cady learns more about Regina, she begins to see that everything about "The Plastics" is truly fake and that she must decide for herself who her true friends are.

Although I'm probably way too old to be admitting this, but I'm a connoisseur of sorts of high school films, and Mean Girls is one of the best that I've seen in a while (at least since
Can’t Hardly Wait). The movie is successful because it works on several levels. On the most basic level, we have a fun high-school comedy, which offers the stereotypical characters of the new girl, the bitch, the jock, the nerds, etc. and tells a story of trying to find your niche in school that many can relate too. There is some broad humor in the film which will appeal to a mass audience. On the next level, screenwriter Tina Fey based her script on the non-fiction book "Queen Bees and Wannabes", which describes the hardships that girls face in high school and the cruel way girls bully one another. The movie does a great job of illustrating this. Every high school film has that bitchy girl who is incredibly evil, but in Mean Girls, we learn more about the subtle ways that girls sabotage each other's success. The part of Mean Girls that I truly enjoyed was the sly and clever humor that Fey and director Mark Waters have inserted into the film. For example, Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler appears are Regina's mom, a pathetic woman who wants to look young and be a "friend" to her daughter. She plays the role totally over-the-top and anyone can laugh at the Chihuahua which chews on her breasts. But, look a little deeper and you’ll see the truth in that character. There are real moms out there who are just like the one in the film, and that’s truly scary and funny. The highlight in the film is the confessional scene where everyone has to do a trust fall.

Along with the multi-layered script, the actors lend a great deal to the film. Lindsay Lohan was placed in a very similar situation in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, but she fares much better here. She is still a bit too cutesy when she reaches the “Plastic” phase, but her energy helps the film. Rachel McAdams is excellent as the evil Regina, and the viewer can’t help but hate her. Tina Fey appears in the film as math-teacher Ms. Norbury, and has some good lines. With Head Over Heels, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls, director Mark Waters had a winning streak with chick flicks that contain a wicked sense of humor. Mean Girls can be enjoyed as a typical high-school film, but dig deeper and you’ll find a great comedy.

Mean Girls bullies its way onto Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image shows some light grain, but is otherwise sharp and clear. There are no defects, such as scratches, from the source material. The colors are very good, most notably bright colors and pastels. The image is well-balanced, as it's not too bright or dark. For a comedy, the depth and level of detail are good. The Disc contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, most notably in crowd scenes. These effects show a nice level of detail and good separation. The surround sound effects in some scenes, such as the assemblies are OK, but this mix isn't very heavy on rear-speaker effects. The in-film music does provide some subwoofer action.

The Mean Girls Disc comes with a few extras. We start with an audio commentary from director Mark Waters, actor/writer Tina Fey, and producer Lorne Michaels. This is an OK commentary, as the trio comments on the production of the film, talking about their cast and the choices in dialogue and costumes. The most interesting moments are when they talk about things that had to be changed or cut in order to avoid an R-rating. The Disc contains three featurettes. “Only the Strong Survive” is a 25-minute “making of” that avoids the usual clichés by focusing more on the story and the characters, and through comments from the cast and crew, we learn more about how the film came together. Author Rosalind Wiseman talks about her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” in “The Politics of Girl World” (10 minutes). She speaks about the themes in the film and what her research has shown her about the behavior of girls. (Although, my sources tell me that “Odd Girl Out” by Rachel Simmons is a better book.) Costume designer Mary Jane Fort talks about the look of Mean Girls in “Plastic Fashion” (10 minutes). “Word Vomit” is a 6-minute blooper reel that contains some funny moments. “So Fetch -- Deleted Scenes” contains 9 scenes which can be viewed with or without commentary from Waters & Fey. All of the scenes are short, but there is some good stuff here. “Interstitials” are usually mini-movies, but the 3 contained here are simply TV spots that don’t contain clips from the film. Finally, we have the trailer for the film.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long