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Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

Review: Obviously It’s a Musical

New “Mean Girls” movie incredible and, unsurprisingly, a musical
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The first major “Mean Girls” (2024) movie trailer was released Nov. 8, 2023. It was met with extreme confusion, as, for a trailer about a musical, it appeared to lack any music except for Olivia Rodrigo’s “Get Him Back.” 

Sure, the original trailer may have appeared misleading to the untrained eye, but I believe that, despite the lack of “Mean Girls” music, it was glaringly obvious that it was a musical. Near the beginning, there’s a scene with Cady (played by Angourie Rice) sitting in a swinging desk, with girls surrounding her and, you guessed it, singing. The trailer goes on to say the movie would be “A new twist from Tina Fey.” Wow, I wonder what the twist will be? Surely not the singing we saw previously. Throughout the rest of the trailer, there is dancing and choreography. And, if those clues weren’t enough, at the end, there is a music note in the letter “A” when it says “Mean Girls.”

And that’s just the first trailer. Later trailers did, in fact, include songs from the movie. 

So, why did I see a clip on Instagram of someone filming in the theater, a problem in and of itself, with the sounds of the audience collectively groaning when Cady began singing “Stupid With Love?” That’s not even the first song of the movie, so, by that point, they should have been well acquainted with the fact it was a musical.

Therefore, I must assume that anyone out there complaining that they were tricked into seeing a musical either paid no attention to any trailers or promotional materials for this movie, or knew it was a musical but didn’t like musicals so they’re pretending they’ve been attacked by this movie that is very clearly not meant for them.

It’s very simple: If you like musicals or you liked the original “Mean Girls” movie, or if you’re like me and were a fan of the Broadway musical as well, then you will like this movie. It does an excellent job of combining features from both the original movie and the original musical. If you do not like musicals nor the original “Mean Girls,” then you will not like this movie, and that is completely fine, just don’t be upset when you, a person who doesn’t like musicals, do not enjoy a musical movie.

The movie does a stellar job of blending elements from the original movie and the musical. Having watched about half of the original movie on a plane ride a week before seeing this one, I immediately recognized several scenes as being directly from the original, except often better paced, by which I mean more quickly paced, likely to save time that would allow for songs in other scenes, and more modern. And so, if you were worried about it being too different from the original, worry not. The trailers may say that it is not your mother’s “Mean Girls,” but it certainly does use your mother’s “Mean Girls” as a strong foundation. 

Now, I view the music with rose-colored glasses, or at least Broadway-colored glasses, as I know many of these songs by heart from the original musical. Obviously, Regina’s songs, sung by Reneé Rapp, were incredible; “Someone Gets Hurt” and “World Burn” are amazing and I am happy to have another version of them to sing along to as I continue to convince myself that I share a vocal range with Regina George.

I was nervous when “Cautionary Tale” began because Janis (played by Auli’i Cravalho) seemed a bit quiet, which I worried would set the tone that the plan was to downplay her singing voice throughout when it should be more powerful, and I continued to worry when they seemed to be doing that with Cady’s songs (more on that later), but my worrying was all for naught, as Cravalho killed her part in “Someone Gets Hurt (Reprise)” and continued to kill it in my favorite song of all time, “I’d Rather Be Me.” I absolutely loved seeing this song on the big screen.

Another song I loved from the Broadway musical was “What’s Wrong With Me,” which, to the movie’s credit, was included. I was nervous about it getting cut. I loved the introduction with the music box; I thought it was very nice staging. However, the song never grew beyond the music box, and I don’t like how quiet and weak the song was, especially compared to Ashley Park’s, the original Gretchen Wieners on Broadway, who, incidentally, played the French teacher in this movie version. Gretchen’s actress, Bebe Wood, has a nice voice, but we didn’t get to see it at its full strength. The song is supposed to swell when she sings, “What’s wrong with me? Where’s my mind? Where does it end?” and it just didn’t. Gretchen as a whole character just wasn’t as fleshed out as she was in either previous version. The movie failed to include the classic scene where she goes off on how they should “totally just stab Caesar,” and she and Karen are cut out of “Meet the Plastics,” which makes sense with time and pacing, but is disappointing nonetheless. I loved their parts in that song and how they all come together with Regina’s at the end in the Broadway version. It seemed like, overall, Gretchen’s star was dimmed so that the focus would be more on Regina.

Now, onto our main character, Cady Heron. The movie did not include “It Roars” and instead traded the song for “What Ifs.” It’s a nice song, but not as powerful or funny as “It Roars,” or even as funny as the opening scenes of the original movie. It was kind of weak and forgettable. Then, later on, they softened and shortened “Stupid With Love.” I didn’t love the ballad style, and how Cady was sort of stalking Aaron, played by Christopher Briney, near the end. I knew that it wasn’t going to be as Broadway-y as the original, but this seemed extreme. Then, they removed Cady’s part from “Apex Predator,” so it was clear that it was not an accident that Cady wasn’t singing the original, more vocally challenging, powerful songs, which may have been less noticeable had she not been the lead character.

I felt some disappointment with the songs they cut, even though the cuts made sense for time and pacing purposes. So, here’s the songs you missed if you’ve never listened to the musical, because I feel like they all deserve to be mentioned: as previously stated, “It Roars” at the beginning, “Where Do You Belong,” the song that happens when Damian and Janis find Cady in the bathroom eating her lunch and decide to guide her (the introduction for which actually plays when Ms. Norbury – Tina Fey – tries to sing), “Stupid With Love (Reprise),” the song version of the classic “October 3rd” scene, “Fearless,” a kind of cool but understandably unnecessary song after Regina is kicked from the lunch table, “Stop,” a funny song in which Damian is trying to get Cady to, as one would expect, stop, “What’s Wrong With Me (Reprise),” which features Gretchen again, but this time singing about Cady, and includes Regina’s mom, “Whose House Is This?” which takes place during Cady’s house party, “More Is Better,” which occurs when Cady and Aaron are talking in her room during said house party, and “Do This Thing,” which spans the course of the mathlete competition.

Another common complaint I noticed reading online reviews was that the movie did not accurately reflect modern high school use of social media. So, then, are we to assume that every high school in 2004 had a queen bee that absolutely everyone was obsessed with, but also everyone hated because she was so mean, but everyone still cared an inordinate amount about her and her life? And that a formerly homeschooled student and her friends made a diabolical plan to take her down? And that buses really went that fast in every high school parking lot? All I’m saying is that the premise of the original movie was already ridiculous, and that’s the entire point. It’s meant to be an exaggerated parody of real life. There are so many dramatic interpretations of high school life in the media that actually take themselves far too seriously, so if you’re looking for something to pick on for not accurately representing high schoolers, pick on those. 

Overall, the movie was a delightful twist on the original and, from my perspective as a member of the target audience, is an entertaining watch. To reiterate, if you are not a member of said target audience and you did not enjoy it, then that is completely normal and entirely expected, but that should not reflect poorly on the movie itself. And so, to my fellow target audience members, I would recommend watching it and perhaps listening to the original Broadway soundtrack on the way home.

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About the Contributor
Arden Berry, Co-Editor in Chief
Arden is a senior at Carroll Senior High School and is currently a co-editor in chief of the Dragon Tribune. This is her fourth year as a member of Dragon Media as well as her eighth year in choir. Sophomore year, she was on the UIL Journalism team and progressed to state in copy editing. Outside of school, she practices piano, plays video games and writes. She hopes to pursue a career in research related to the social sciences.