'Mean Girls' still the ultimate high school movie

The cast of Mean Girls (Handout)

The cast of Mean Girls (Handout)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:53 PM ET


Some movies just get bigger with time: Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, The Godfather.

And Mean Girls. You go Glen Coco!

A decade on, the high school comedy that was a box office smash in 2004 has become a cultural icon, an endlessly quoted reference point for fans and followers everywhere. Even the White House adorably stole a line from Plastics leader Regina George for Bo, the First Dog: "Stop trying to make fetch happen!"

Filmed in Toronto (which is why you keep thinking you see people from Mean Girls at the grocery store — you do!), Mean Girls is officially 10 years old on April 30. Over the past few weeks, rumours have been floated about a sequel to the movie, about a Mean Girls cast reunion and about a million-girl march on Washington to celebrate the movie's birthday.

We may be exaggerating that last bit.

There probably isn't a woman on the planet who can't identify with some aspect of Mean Girls. Written by Tina Fey from the book Queen Bees and Wannabes (by Rosalind Wiseman), the movie makes light of the social pecking order, the cruelty of adolescents, the desperate need to conform and the obsession with appearance, clothing choices (pink on Wednesdays!) and popularity. All kinds of ugly jealousies and harsh criticisms found their way into Regina's 'Burn Book', another element of the movie that has become an ironic part of popular culture.

The movie launched a handful of careers. For starters, it made Fey much bigger than SNL. It gave child star Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday, The Parent Trap) superstar status and launched the careers of Rachel McAdams (she was in The Notebook the same year) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!). Mean Girls was actually Seyfried's very first movie.

It didn't hurt Lizzy Caplan's (TV's Freaks and Geeks, Masters of Sex) career to play outcast Janis Ian; at the time, Lacey Chabert, who played Gretchen Weiners — so fetch! — was one of the better known cast members as the star of Party of Five.

Mean Girls is a completely relatable high school tale, involving LiLo as a home-schooled adolescent raised primarily in Africa. Her world travels and academic parents have kept her out of mainstream Western culture, so when she's dropped into a typical American high school the social order is all new to her. In her mind's eye, it's all comparable to the kill-or-be-killed law of the jungle, which is played for visual humour.

Her unusual background makes Lohan's character the perfect observer/outsider, and through her eyes we see teen life in high relief. She's an independent, intelligent girl, but she too is soon seduced by the Plastics, the cruel and vaguely moronic in-crowd group of girls that exists to make others feel bad about themselves.

Will our heroine be able to maintain her individuality?

Mean Girls was unusually truthful, showing as it did the cruelty of adolescents and the influence of money on popularity. The movie was released into a changing world, and theories abound that part of its continued popularity is a slice o' synchronicity — Facebook was born two months before the movie was released.

Social Media changed the movie's longevity.

Regardless of where an individual falls on the spectrum of social acceptance: in-crowd, out crowd, math geek, stoner, athlete, nerd, etc., Mean Girls is the ultimate high school movie.

It's also funny as hell, and a decade later, it holds up perfectly.

10 FAMOUS PHRASES FROM MEAN GIRLS

• Get in loser, we're going shopping.

• And I want my pink shirt back! I want my pink shirt back!

• Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It isn't going to happen.

• I'm sorry that people are so jealous of me, but I can't help it that I'm so popular.

• She doesn't even go here!

• That's why her hair is so big. It's full of secrets.

• I'm kinda psychic. I have a fifth sense. It's like I have ESPN or something. My breasts can always tell when it's going to rain.

• You can't sit with us!

• I'm not like a regular mom. I'm a cool mom.

• One time, she punched me in the face. It was awesome!

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca

 


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