It’s never too late to see it, even if it’s past October 3
Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock. I have a confession to make: up until recently, I’d never seen Mean Girls. As a film buff, I was well aware of it, and could tell you it was shot in 2004 by Mark Waters (who also made Freaky Friday) and starred Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. I was also aware of its cultural impact and could guess it was set in a high school and featured girls being mean to each other in some way. But the appeal of Mean Girls was still shrouded in mystery for me.
Here are a few realisations I had after watching it:
– All these jokes, memes and endless references to the movie I’d been seeing for years all across the Internet are finally funny.
– Lindsay Lohan was actually probably never a good actress. This may not be a popular opinion, but I found she just never looked the part of a homeschooled math geek. On the other hand, the film gave me a newfound appreciation for Rachel McAdams. I guess you can see another actress as Cady Heron, but you sure can’t see anyone else as Regina George.
– The Tina Fey/Amy Poehler collaboration has been going on for longer than I realized. Fey is also one mighty screenwriter. How did she never write another movie after this?
– My high-school experience was drastically different from most people if they can actually relate to everything that happens in Mean Girls. I should feel lucky. Also, it’s one of those films where everyone looks like they’re in their mid-20s but you just kind of go with it.
Mean Girls has definitely aged well, and in fact it’s refreshing, not to mention a bit surreal, to see a film about teenagers that barely features modern technology—I suppose if it was still possible to make a film with no computers or social media in it in 2004, that might not be possible anymore. And by not over-relying on existing pop culture, instead making her own contribution to it, Fey made Mean Girls something of a modern classic.
So why is this film so important to so many people? Why did people gasp upon learning that I’d never seen it, and insist that I needed to? As film critic Roger Ebert once wrote in a 1992 essay, “Look at a movie that a lot of people love, and you will find something profound, no matter how silly the film may seem.” Silly would be a good word to describe Mean Girls, which, for all its immortal lines about making “fetch” happen and asking people why they’re white, makes no pretense to profundity—some will say it’s about being proud of who you are, which is as good a moral as a story can get.
Even as a watered-down version of something like Welcome to the Dollhouse (seriously, check that one out), it addresses peer pressure and different forms of bullying in an unhealthy high school environment with sincerity, but also undying humour and everlasting quotability. So, yes, I do feel a bit richer for having seen Mean Girls, and if it ever becomes obsolete, it’s probably still a good many generations from happening. It’s never too late to see it for the first time and start wearing pink on Wednesdays.