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Jan 12, 2024
(Updated on
Jan 12, 2024
)

Mean Girls 2024 Movie Marketing Review: Is Hollywood Shy to Market Musicals?

As "Mean Girls (2024)" hits the big screen, it carries the weight of being both a sequel to the 2004 teen comedy classic and an adaptation of the popular Broadway musical. With Tina Fey, the mastermind behind the original screenplay, penning this new installment, fans are wondering if it can manage to both honour the series' storied past and embrace its contemporary spirit. Aside from the plot and character relationships, the movie has two challenges to overcome: living up to the standards set by its forerunners and finding a place in the constantly changing field of high school stories. On top of that, the film's marketing approach adds another level of complexity, which may make viewers confused.

Source: Paramount Pictures

Adapting a Broadway musical back into a film is a challenging task, especially when the source material has its roots in a beloved 2004 movie. "Mean Girls (2024)" treads on familiar ground but has the unique opportunity to refresh and redefine characters and narratives for a contemporary audience. Tina Fey, with her keen understanding of the original magic, must walk a fine line between honouring the past and crafting a narrative that resonates with the present generation. 

"Mean Girls (2024)" embarks on a familiar narrative journey, following Cady Heron's evolution from a homeschooled student in Kenya to navigating high school complexities in the United States. Directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. introduce contemporary elements, seamlessly blending social media dynamics into the teenage chaos. Notably, the openly queer portrayals of Janis and Damian offer a refreshing and relevant take on character dynamics in today's high school landscape. The plot unfolds as Cady, a home-schooled teen from Kenya, steps into the intricate web of high school complexities. Regina George, accompanied by her loyal subordinates Gretchen and Karen, retains her status as the queen bee—feared, desired, and loathed simultaneously. The review acknowledges the well-trodden path of the storyline, tracing Cady's journey through betrayal, comeuppance, repentance, and eventual triumph. While the narrative may echo familiar beats, it's precisely this predictability that resonates with fans, creating a comforting and engaging high school saga.

Source: Paramount Pictures

A pivotal aspect of any "Mean Girls" iteration is the portrayal of Regina George. Reneé Rapp steps into this formidable role, aiming to leave her imprint on a character previously defined by Rachel McAdams. Rapp's performance is heralded as a highlight, with her rendition of "My Name is Regina George" showcasing an ability to infuse the character with both punch and confidence. The question lingers: can Rapp's Regina be meaner and more dynamic than McAdams' iconic portrayal?

The film's marketing strategy has left many prospective viewers in a state of perplexity. Trailers, conspicuously devoid of musical elements, have led some to believe it's a mere remake, disregarding the Broadway adaptation. The tagline, "This isn’t your mother’s Mean Girls," adds another layer of complexity, suggesting a departure from the original but leaving audiences to wonder how far the film deviates from the well-established narrative. Felicia Wade contends that this marketing conundrum might have already shaped the audience's perception, potentially impacting the film's reception.

Mean Girls is Technically a Musical 

Source: Paramount Pictures

The film adaptation introduces a shift in the musical landscape by trimming some of the Broadway tunes. However, standout moments emerge in Reneé Rapp's performance as Regina George. Rapp, despite lacking the nuance of Rachel McAdams from the 2004 film, injects Regina with undeniable oomph and swagger. Regina's character-defining songs, particularly the powerful "Plastics" and the incendiary "World Burn," mark high points in the musical journey. Rapp's commanding presence breathes new life into Regina, showcasing a different yet captivating facet of the iconic character.

The directors' decision to blend nostalgia with a contemporary spin is commendable. Outdated jokes are discarded, and social media is seamlessly integrated into the teenage experience. The choreography, under Kyle Hanagami's guidance, takes on a cinematic approach, reminiscent of Kenny Ortega's work in "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." The result is a unique blend of music video aesthetics and traditional musical sequences, offering a fresh perspective on storytelling. Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., in their feature debut, steer the film with commendable finesse. The narrative's momentum is upheld through their adept direction, featuring bright colours that pop and a narrative tempo that keeps the audience engaged. The decision to break the fourth wall and incorporate smartphone images cleverly underscores the ubiquity of social media in the high school experience. Although there are a few visual flourishes here and there to liven up the storytelling, the movie largely follows the visual language of the 2004 classic. But critics point out instances in which the film fails to create a genuinely immersive atmosphere, arguing that the lack of immersive experience is what sets this film apart.

Source: Paramount Pictures

Social Media Commentary and Creative Easter Eggs

While Tina Fey's new script is critiqued for only scratching the surface of social media's impact on girlhood, the film compensates with creative Easter eggs, references, and cameos. Fey's fourth-wall-breaking moments add humour and self-awareness, addressing the audience about slang from an old movie and acknowledging the film's position in a cultural continuum.

The ensemble cast endeavours to breathe new life into the iconic characters, yet some feel underutilized. Reneé Rapp's standout performance is acknowledged, but other stellar talents, like Jon Hamm and Jenna Fischer, are seemingly wasted in less prominent roles. The absence of Cady's voice-over internal monologue creates a noticeable void, impacting the audience's connection with the lead character.

Mean Girls: More Like Shein Girls

One notable hindrance to the film's overall impact is its lacklustre costume design. The portrayal of Cady in frumpy attire throughout contradicts her eventual transformation into a plastic. The Plastics themselves face criticism for inconsistent and unimpressive outfits, appearing more like Shein shoppers than affluent high schoolers. The lack of coherence in costume design becomes a significant drawback, impacting the film's visual storytelling.

"Mean Girls (2024)" falls short of holding its own against the original, struggling to strike a balance between catering to nostalgic fans and being accessible to newer viewers. The decision to feature fewer songs from the musical, while aiding pacing, might disappoint Broadway enthusiasts. The film offers moments of entertainment, but it fails to capture the magic of the 2004 classic. "Mean Girls (2024)" seamlessly weaves itself into the tapestry of its predecessor, maintaining the comically reliable nature of high school stories. This review underscores the film's adherence to the timeless formula of high school dynamics, where villains like Regina George reign supreme. Remarkably, little has changed since the iconic debut in 2004, and the movie embraces its cheerfully derivative essence. The familiarity becomes a strength, offering a nostalgic journey into the halls of North Shore High and reminding audiences why high school tales are both comically and horrifyingly reliable.

Source: Paramount Pictures

Attempt to Appeal to a Broader Audience

In its pursuit of a new cinematic journey, "Mean Girls (2024)" appears to have made strategic adjustments, possibly aiming to broaden its appeal across diverse audiences. The review hints at a conscious effort to tone down certain elements, potentially with the intention of making the film more family-friendly. This decision, however, raises questions, especially when considering that both versions of the film maintain a PG-13 rating. The film industry is always changing, with directors frequently altering their works to appeal to a larger audience. In this case, the review suggests that the filmmakers may have opted for a more inclusive approach by softening certain aspects of the narrative. While the intent to attract a broader audience is understandable, the decision to do so within the confines of a PG-13 rating sparks curiosity.

It's worth mentioning whether the adjustments made to cater to a potentially wider viewership enhance or dilute the essence of the "Mean Girls" universe. The review, albeit raising questions, doesn't pass a final judgment on whether this attempt to broaden the film's appeal is successful. It leaves room for viewers to explore whether the tonal adjustments strike the right balance or whether the film, in navigating the delicate line between broadening its reach and staying true to its roots, finds itself in challenging terrain.

Source: Paramount Pictures

As the cinematic landscape continues to shift, the delicate dance between broadening appeal and preserving the core identity of a beloved franchise adds an intriguing layer to the discourse surrounding "Mean Girls (2024)." Only the audience's verdict, upon experiencing this new iteration, will ultimately determine the success of the film's attempt to appeal to a broader spectrum of moviegoers.

"Mean Girls (2024)" is a shining example of the timeless allure of high school narratives, especially when they revolve around captivating antagonists. With the Plastics once again reigning over the high school halls, "Mean Girls (2024)" expertly treads the fine line between paying tribute and offering a fresh take. Although Rapp's portrayal of Regina is captivating and the film includes creative Easter eggs, there are certain aspects where it stumbles, such as marketing confusion and lacklustre costume design. It offers a satisfactory amount of entertainment for fans of the original and the Broadway musical, leaving audiences both entertained and craving for more. The film's success ultimately depends on its skillful navigation of the past and present, leaving viewers to contemplate whether it achieves this delicate balance.

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