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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Reneé Rapp brings The Plastics back in ‘Mean Girls’

In this modern mix of the original “Mean Girls” and the Broadway production of “Mean Girls,” Tina Fey gives us more pink, more mean, more music and more girls.
Lexie Perez
Graphic depicting a pink car driving with a thought bubble that says, “Get in losers, we’re going to the movies.” (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

After 20 years of pink Wednesdays, barreling buses and mean girls, I was excited to make my way to the Regal Opry Mills. I had been looking forward to this night since Oct. 2023 when they announced that “Mean Girls” would be hitting the theaters. With the help of Tina Fey, the 2004 original “Mean Girls” and Broadway musical were combined into one fantastic movie. Once I coordinated a viewing time and rides for my friends, we just had to wait for the trailers to end and the lights to fade. While I wasn’t expecting what would hit the screens, it was a pleasant surprise full of heartfelt-emotion, back-stabbing, laugh-out-loud humor and plenty of musical numbers. 

While never being a “Mean Girls” superfan, I was really looking forward to the resurgence of the queen bee herself, Regina George, played by my favorite person alive, Reneé Rapp. From playing Regina George on Broadway in 2019, starring in “The Sex Lives of College Girls” as Leighton Murray in 2021 and returning again in 2022, kick starting her music career and now starring in the “Mean Girls” remake movie/musical in 2024, she has been a fast-rising actress and pop-star. So, no, I am not a Mean Girls superfan; I am a Reneé Rapp superfan. 

Circling back to the movie, it opened with a thoughtful “Thank You” message from Tina Fey — the original Ms. Norbury and creator of the musical adaptation of “Mean Girls.” Including this message really shows that this franchise is something she is proud of and that it was made with love and was well-crafted. Immediately off the bat, we are introduced to Janis ‘Imi’ike (formerly Janis Ian, played by Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey), recording a video of themselves singing the opening song, “A Cautionary Tale.” We are quickly introduced to Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) as well as her mom (Jenna Fischer). As Cady’s first day of school progresses, the audience is brought to the lunch room, where we’re introduced to The Plastics with “Meet The Plastics”: Regina George, Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and Karen Shetty (formerly Karen Smith, played by Avantika). 

While I won’t run you through the whole movie (as I urge you to go see it yourself), I’ll jump into my general negative remarks about it before circling back to the positive. It felt like a watered-down version of the original with some of the most iconic lines from the original being missed in this remake. One of my favorite lines from the original is Regina being blown off by Karen and Regina exclaiming, “Boo, you whore!” before hanging up the phone, which was not included in the new version. 

My biggest issue with the new movie would actually have to be with how Regina is a significantly better person. In the original, Regina is painted to be a crazy, selfish, spiteful yet all-powerful girl, while in the remake she’s only emotionally manipulative and sticks mostly to petty gossip rather than creating rumors that ruin peoples’ careers and social lives. She’s nowhere near nice, but she’s also nowhere as heinous as she was in the original. One of my favorite scenes from the original movie was Regina finally snapping. She came storming into her room screaming, frantically writing in the Burn Book, taping her picture under the words “Fugly Slut,” and distributed tons of copies of the pages. This scene was diminished to a slow and steady stroke of a pen, snip of a picture and drop of a book in the hall. In the remake, Regina seemed very calculated but wasn’t made out to be some strategic person. Throughout this whole movie Regina lacked the original emotion Rachel McAdams portrayed.

Another character, Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney) was also very different and had fewer interactions with Cady in the remake. Plus, the original plot of Cady infiltrating The Plastics was to steal Aaron from Regina, so his lack of screen time throws a wrench in this. 

On the other hand, this movie had a lot to live up to (which may be why I am overly critical of it), and I feel like it definitely scored a lot of goals. I loved the little cameos that were incorporated into the movie: Lindsay Lohan, the original Cady Heron, appears as the Mathlete’s Tournament Moderator, and of course Tina Fey and Tim Meadows appear as their original roles, Ms. Norbury and Principal Duvall, respectively. This movie did a great job at still paying homage to the original movie, with both the thoughtful inclusion of the original cast, as well as keeping some of the celebrated lines from the original, including “October 3rd,” “Get in loser” and “On Wednesdays we wear pink.” 

Obviously this was a modern adaptation of the 2004 film, but I find that including TikTok helped the progression of events. When Regina faceplants on stage, the video goes viral. There are other students and influencers reacting to the video giving their unsolicited comments, talking about how Regina’s fall was embarrassing and Cady was the one holding the whole act together. This is definitely a modern take on the play of events, but this storyline still keeps the plot of the movie similar to the original. Additionally, two of the songs, “A Cautionary Tale” and “Sexy” (sung by Avantika), start off as the characters recording videos of themselves, which I think helps incorporate the songs with the moderness of the movie.

The casting was also perfectly executed. The actors and actresses did an amazing job bringing the iconic characters to life. The modernization of the cast was really powerful and speaks volumes to the message they are trying to send with the film. Both Cravalho and Avantika changed the last names of their characters to exemplify their culture, with Ian now becoming ‘Imi’ike and Smith now becoming Shetty. Similarly, Gretchen makes a comment about a gift she received from her “abuelita” since Woods is Latina. Along with bringing cultural diversity into the film, they opted to get rid of a lot of the controversial jokes and lyrics. There was a conscious effort made to right their wrongs and not benefit from putting down others in the form of harmful jokes.

Some of the more random changes they made to the remake also really stuck with me. Karen’s character was changed significantly, and so many of her lines made me laugh out loud. At times, it felt as if they were trying to create a parody of the original movie, making some of the plot points seem so outlandish and poking fun at some of the original scenes. Similarly, they made Cady more of a “home-schooled jungle freak” since her character was more awkward and had trouble being normal and socializing, making a lot of her actions and lines very cringy. 

All-in-all, this release was very anticipated, and I was very thrilled to see this movie. Of course every movie has its flaws, but for me, the humor, soundtrack and stars all made up for it. I encourage everyone who has seen the original “Mean Girls” to watch this movie. It’s so fetch!

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About the Contributors
Kailey Aldrich
Kailey Aldrich, Staff Writer
Kailey Aldrich (‘27) is from Olmsted Township, Ohio, and studies biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering. She is a Life staff writer interested in anything and everything, but she loves creative writing. She is great at relaxing and having fun with her friends instead of studying. You can reach her at [email protected].
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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