Mean girls [Motion picture]. (2004). Paramount.
Plot Summary: Cady has been homeschooled her whole life and is therefore unprepared to start high school. She befriends two of the schools outcasts but quickly catches the attention of the popular girls known as the plastics. Her friend Janice encourages her to hang out with the plastics so they can spy on them and laugh at what they do but Cady quickly becomes one of them as she tries to topple the reigning queen bee Regina from her top spot. Regina retaliates by spreading around pages of a book full of gossip about all the girls in school and framing Cady for it. This leads to a huge school wide girl fight. The teachers round up all of the girls and send them to the gym were one of the teachers makes them apologize to each other. When Cady tries to leave without apologizing Regina confronts her outside the school and gets hit by a bus. Cady renounces her mean girl ways and makes a big speech at prom about being nicer to people and in doing so dissolves the cliques in her grade.
Critical Evaluation: This film has a lot of social commentary about the pressures of high school and the way girls, and women, treat each other. The film does so in a very funny and engaging way as clueless Cady gets filled in. Like one scene featuring Regina’s “cool mom” who is desperate to stay young offering the girls drinks that look like some kind of cocktail. The other plastics all take a sip of theirs but Cady pauses and asks if they contain alcohol. The mom says no but then asks if she wants some going into a speech about how she’d rather have them drink at home while her daughter shoves her out of the room. Regina’s house features several examples of boundary issues when parents try too hard to be friends to their kids like the fact that she made her parents give her the bigger bedroom. The film also tackles how women treat each other calling out how the girls spread gossip around the school, particularly how they used it as a weapon in arguments. Overall the film is funny, smart and something may teens will relate to.
Viewer’s Annotation: When Cady begins high school after years of home schooling she is in way over her head and totally unprepared to deal with the mean girls at her school.
Discussion Ideas: 1) Why does Cady join the plastics?
2) What does it mean to be a “Mean Girl” and when does Cady become one in the film?
Movie rating & Interest Level: The movie is rated PG13 which fits with the interest level it is all about high school and deals with issues that will be relate-able to that age group.
Challenge Issues: There is underage drinking, discussion of sex, and some violence during a school wide girl fight. Despite these things the movie was still able to get a PG13 rating so it should still be appropriate for most teen viewers. It is also a teen favorite and has been very well reviewed.
Why is it included?: This film is the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of teen movies. I loved it when I was in high school and it was the go to movie for many of my classes for the last day before break when we had nothing to do. The movie is still popular I often see it quoted online and on various products. The film celebrated its ten year anniversary last year and got a ton of publicity then which may have helped introduce it to more teens.