When Katie Lesnyk first told me about 2004’s Mean Girls, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Oh great, I told myself. Yet another mid-2000s girly high school comedy starring a bunch of irrelevant nobodies. Just what I need clogging up my screen.
And from the outset, it looked like it. Pink dominated the poster, I recognized none of its stars, and the trailer felt right at home with the likes of A Cinderella Story or Sleepover, shallow and commercialized chick-flicks with little style and no substance.
But as I looked deeper into the film, I noticed something that threw me off big time, the one thing I last expected to see alongside such a nadir of the last decade: praise. Praise for its story, praise for its characters, praise for its mature and relatable themes and conflicts, and praise for its indelible mark on pop culture.
At first, it made no sense. It seemed so absurd and illogical: how could a film so seemingly feminine – especially in the eyes of someone who had grown up with his fill (and then some) of testosterone-brimming action flicks and superhero epics – be so universally beloved 15 years after its release? It had to be an overly-hyped bait-and-switch.
And yet, the more I pondered its strange existence, the more inquisitive I became; and the more inquisitive I became, the more I wanted to watch it.
And so, after much persuasion (and reluctance), I finally took the bait: I went back to my apartment, got settled on the couch, donned my wireless earbuds, and gave it a watch.
Thank god I did.
Now, I could go on for days about why Mean Girls is one of the greatest comedies I have ever seen and how it gave me a new appreciation for comedy overall, but I’ll sum it up twofold.
Regarding the film itself, the first time I ever saw it, knowing absolutely nothing about the story, the characters, its themes or its conflicts, I found myself laughing the whole time.
I still don’t know what it was about the film that made it so hysterically hilarious that first time around, and maybe I’ll never know. But what I do know is this: it is truly a comedic masterpiece, and a smart one at that.
Perhaps what makes it so great is how real it is, and how willing it is to poke fun at something that seemed like such a vital part of our past. There’s something so relatable about the story of Cady Heron and her journey to find her true self in the strange, new world of high school that, despite having not gone through nearly any of the trials and tribulations facing Cady and her North Shore peers in the film, I can personally connect to. I often found myself to be an oddball at high school, never really fitting in with any one person or clique like the film’s “Plastics,” and, at first, it was maddening.
But, just like Cady, I eventually realized how much better it was to be myself and embrace my individuality and true passions than to try and become something that I was not meant to be. For Cady, it was math; for me, it was theater. And for both of us, it was being Actual Human Beings.
It’s an experience we all can connect to, no matter where we stood on the high school totem pole. Because, in the end, we are all Actual Human Beings more than anything else, and the sooner we embrace that fact, the sooner the world, like Girl World, can truly be at peace.
Beyond the film, however, there was one more lasting impact of Mean Girls, a “stanning” that still drives my TNH-mates crazy and a fascination with someone I never imagined I would ever care about in a million years: Lindsay Lohan.
Now, before I go on, yes, I am very well aware of the pop star’s…complicated past and mixed reputation, especially when it comes to her relationships with the media and the law, and I fully acknowledge her flaws and shortcomings.
With that out of the way, I digress.
If there one part of Mean Girls that stood out to me more than anything else, it was Lohan’s genuine and realistic performance, a job so well done I just had to find out what else she has done.
Turns out, she’s done everything: pop albums, documentaries, reality TV, interviews, TV shows, SNL hosting gigs, and – most notably – her exceptional filmography.
While I certainly don’t believe that everything Lohan touches turns to gold, there is a certain charisma to her acting, an authenticity that says, I don’t care how silly this is, I’m invested all the way through. And its been that charisma and passion that makes her other better films (The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday (2003)) – and even some of her more “average” projects (Just My Luck, Herbie: Fully Loaded, etc.) – strangely enjoyable and worth my time, flaws and all.
As many in the newsroom well know (especially a certain managing editor), I’m not at all embarrassed by my fascination with Lindsay Lohan, especially since she is finally (and hopefully!!!) making the comeback she deserves: she’s judging in Australia’s “Masked Singer” and crafting her musical rebirth at Casablanca Records as we speak. Agree with me or not, this is one mean girl I don’t mind calling a “queen.”
And as for Tina Fey’s magnum opus that started it all…well, tomorrow’s the big day for all us honorary Plastics, and I am so looking forward to making time in my busy schedule to see the film that’s made me want to make “fetch” happen for real. And it’ll only be my second viewing ever.
A film that powerful? Now that’s what I call grool.