‘Mean Girls’ Turns 10: A Decade Later, We Still Feel Personally Victimized by Regina George

mean girls

There’s rarely been a week that’s gone by in the past decade where I haven’t managed to quote Mean Girls or reference the film in some form. Whether it be via .gif in a forum in lieu of a response that would have paled in comparison, or a Facebook status nearly every October 3, the probability of me utilizing Mean Girls as a random content generator is fairly high. I’m not obsessed by any means, but this 2004 hit has always resonated with me. It’s one of those rare gems that doesn’t depreciate; you can pop it in at any point and still adore it as much as you did the first time you experienced it.

When Mean Girls was originally released, I was 17 years old, and admittedly far less open-minded than I’d consider myself to be today. I had never seen a trailer or even heard much about the film prior to viewing, but upon reading its synopsis as the opening credits began, I think it’s safe to say that my skepticism was high. Much to my surprise, the following 97 minutes challenged me, ultimately becoming some of the most gratifying, humbling, and enlightening that I had come to experience up until that point. I’d be remiss to not admit that that viewing of Mean Girls became one of many impetuses that led to my broadened taste, acceptance, and exploration in all forms of media.

Ever since my first (dubious) viewing of the Tina Fey-penned comedy in 2004, Mean Girls has continued to maintain its firm grasp on pop culture with relevance, quotability, and an unrivaled comedic quality in its writing and delivery that’s outlasted thousands of disposable comedy-leaning films from the past 10 years. Mark Waters’ fourth directorial feature (following 2003’s Lohan-starring Freaky Friday) has elicited a kind of cult-like culture that worships the film. The endless options of unique fan-made merchandise and demand for a prospective musical adaptation is surely evidence of that. Mean Girls is a film like many “cult favorites” that has cemented itself into a rare and beloved niche in the annals of film history, forever keeping fans mirthfully laughing at every joke and mouthing every hilariously catty line on every rewatch.

Whether you find yourself identifying or associating with the Plastics, burnouts, Asian nerds, sexually active band geeks, girls who eat their feelings, varsity jocks, the Mathletes, or any other absurdly specific, and perhaps offensively-dubbed coterie, Mean Girls undoubtedly has at least one character or clique that you can liken to your high school self and circle of closest friends. The situations and themes that our beloved characters find themselves involved with are all too familiar. Popularity, adolescent awkwardness, sexual exploration, and friendships torn asunder by deceit and the ever-effective rumor mill are subjects that we typically all can relate to from our years in high school.

Despite the fact that some of the scenarios in Mean Girls could certainly be considered highly exaggerated, the familiarity and relatable situations are just some of the film’s qualities that make it so great. And sure, there have been countless other movies and television shows that have explored these ideas, but few have succeeded with such panache and laugh-out-loud hilarity as Mean Girls. That relatable quality is also what makes this film the Queen Bee of quotability, because there are so many “Feyisms” that contributed to a shift in Millennials’ vernacular. You can replace many of your old, boring phrases with Fey’s upgraded variations–something fans have been doing tenaciously for the past 10 years.

Beyond introducing viewers to a new level of accessible and relatable satire, Mean Girls was most certainly the launchpad for the future careers of some of its stars. Rachel McAdams went on to land major roles in popular films such as The Notebook, Sherlock Holmes, Midnight In Paris, and To The Wonder. Mean Girls was also Amanda Seyfried’s first feature film, who went on to star in Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables, and Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming comedy, A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Lindsay Lohan, the film’s lead, of course moved on to a different type of celebrity, eventually starring in a series of her own mugshots. However, I for one hope that the masses can overlook her current state of woe and recall the fact that she did shine in Mean Girls as Cady Heron—and not just because she did a brief stint as a Plastic. And even though this role was a professional summit she tumbled from with little grace–seemingly never to recover—I’ll always remember her as the sweetly naive, yet wholly intelligent, home-schooled girl from Africa who was thrust into the unrelentingly chaotic world of public education by her zoologist parents. A quick aside: Gretchen Wieners is played by Lacey Chabert who voiced “Eliza” in the Nickelodeon cartoon The Wild Thornberrys from 1998-2004; an interesting correlation, no?

Anyway, watching Mean Girls now for the umpteenth time since my inaugural viewing 10 years ago, I can confirm that the film has held up wonderfully. I believe that its aforementioned qualities will always stand and be relevant to my generation and those that follow. The jokes (both distinct and elusive) are still hysterical, and that’s a true testament to Tina Fey’s totally fetch writing prowess and the comedic chops on display from all of the film’s actors. This includes SNL veterans Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, and Ana Gasteyer, as well as the always magnificent, quick-witted Lizzy Caplan and the lovable Daniel Franzese, both of whom were relatively unknown at the time.

If you’ve managed to sleep on this film for the past 10 years or judged those who have raved about it for just as long, give it a shot. Maybe it can do for you what it did for me and countless others. There is no limit to how much you can love and appreciate this movie. The limit does not exist. And if you think you’re above it, then you can’t sit with us. Oh, and by the way, today’s Wednesday. On Wednesdays we wear pink.

Watch Mean Girls’ original trailer below and pick up your own copy on DVD or Blu-ray here. It’s also currently streaming on Netflix Instant. Grool!

Brian Leak
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