Close this search box.

Mean Girls is Still Grool as Ever

Twenty years later, the Mean Girls remake as a musical adds to the original’s legacy. 

by Aurora Zboch

Mean Girls is even hotter than it was yesterday. It’s not my fault I’m in love with it all over again. Yes, I’m quoting lyrics from the new musical motion picture. But that’s all anybody did when the first movie dropped in 2004.

The book-turned-movie-turned-musical-turned-movie is a must-see. Fans of the original and a new generation alike can appreciate the new depths and extra spice of the wild drama. It’s the same story as we know, give or take a few minor details. Twenty years later, the modern twists revolve around social media, fashion and dance trends, plus updated pop culture references. 

The musical begins with Janis and Damian speaking – well, singing – to the audience . They are our campy bards. In the first two numbers, I buckled in for the experience to be extra cheesy, like Karen the mouse (duh). But the introduction to the Plastics and Regina George, masterfully played by Renée Rapp, convinced me this version would be seriously delicious. She scarily reminded me of the queen bee of my old friend group. Rapp perfectly holds a candle to Rachel McAdams’s portrayal but takes it up a notch with her villainously phenomenal voice. 

Cady Heron is more oblivious and an even bigger try-hard. Regina is colder. Her mom is totally, hilariously narcissistic. Gretchen is painfully self aware and Karen is dumber than ever. While it’s hard to replace the original cast, it’s a relief to see a diverse cast of dewy, round-faced actors convincingly playing high schoolers. 

As a key actor and the writer of the screenplay and adaptive book, Tina Fey returns as teacher Ms. Norbury. Tim Meadows once again plays Mr. Duvall, the principal. Possibly the most important surprise cameo happens near the end, but I won’t spoil that. Let me tell you, I was gasping the whole time, but in that instance I screamed.

The musical preserves Mean Girls’ most iconic jokes and some moments come full circle. Ariana Grande’s own tribute video “thank u, next” gets a mention during the Christmas concert. The musical sections were purposeful and not annoying earworms. Luckily, the dialogue balances well with the songs. Overall it was aggressively poppy, differing from the soft indie-rock soundtrack of 2004. 

Megan Thee Stallion contributing a track and appearing as a guest star was a treat. Stallion and Rapp’s duet “Not My Fault” is a gay, groovy house track riding on a sexy bass line. Opting for a hiphop flair over disco strings, it’s reminiscent of Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” from Barbie.

When it comes to cliques and describing individuals, this version is far more sensitive to the poking fun through body shaming and cultural differences we might have overlooked in 2004. Queerness is celebrated. It explores the root issues and social dynamics that create the dangerous dance between insecurity and jealousy. 

Rushing to get ready for the Toronto premiere, I put on an Ari makeup tutorial and assembled an obnoxious outfit in hot pink. The entire crowd had the same idea: among a sea of pink, I also spotted girls wearing ears like Karen as a mouse (duh). We walked into the theatre through a balloon banner spelling “SO FETCH.” Gaggles of 20-somethings exchanged compliments, almost so as to counteract the meanness we just witnessed on screen. The final amazing touch happened on the way out: the movie staff handed out candy cane-grams. 

Real talk, I was a mean girl in elementary school. In the primitive days of social media, I called some classmates fugly in a YouTube comment section and got suspended from school. Years later, my friends and I made a Facebook fan page for our science teacher, and the admins called the cops – a far cry from the wholesome assembly that Ms. Norbury leads so the students reflect on their behaviour after the Burn Book incident. Now we collectively understand the more realistic implications of being terminally online with how desensitized we are to gossip. The classic Mean Girls moments become amplified every time phones come out to make those embarrassing moments go viral. 

It was a pleasure to attend the screening dressed up as one of the Plastics, while being a grownup who knows better. Cringeworthy memories aside, the remake mostly reminded me of me and my band friends at music camp in high school, watching the original and shouting every line. Despite falling somewhere in between the cliques of sexually active band geeks and the theatre kids, I’m not much of a musicals person. When I began watching I felt a bit nervous that it wouldn’t do the original movie justice. However, I texted my besties after and told them they have to watch it. The new Mean Girls is great, and cool. It’s grool.