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Mark S. Waters
Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Tina Fey, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer
Writing Credits:
Rosalind Wiseman (book), Tina Fey

Watch your back.

Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.

Box Office:
$17 million.
Opening Weekend
$24.432 million on 2839 screens.
Domestic Gross
$86.049 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 4/14/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director Mark Waters, Writer/Actor Tina Fey, and Producer Lorne Michaels
• 3 Featurettes
• Blooper Reel
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• 3 Interstitials
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Mean Girls [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 28, 2015)

Ah, the glory days of 2004 – back when Lindsay Lohan was a wholesome teen idol and Tina Fey was just another Saturday Night Live castmember. We see the two cross paths for that year’s Mean Girls.

16-year-old Cady Heron (Lohan) starts her first day of public school. Her parents (Neil Flynn and Ana Gasteyer) previously home-schooled her while they lived in Africa as researchers. They take a university gig and move to the Midwest, which plops Cady in with the other American kids for the first time. This falls into the “rude awakening” category as she goes into the hard-edged world of suburban teens.

Despite some surly reactions to her, Cady quickly befriends a pair of outcasts: Goth girl Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and gay Damian (Daniel Franzeze). They show her the ropes and she learns about the various cliques, one of which they call “The Plastics”. Referred to as “teen royalty”, that small clan consists of dim-witted Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried), wealthy gossip Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), and the leader, imperious blonde Regina George (Rachel McAdams).

After Regina helps defuse a situation in which an obnoxious boy teases Cady, the head Plastic invites our new girl to sit with them for the rest of the week. Janis encourages this so Cady can report back what she learns of group’s inner workings. A complication arises when Cady meets hunky Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett) in her math class. She falls for him but soon learns that he used to date Regina, which makes him off-limits.

Essentially the movie follows the various interrelationships and how they become even more complicated. Initially naďve, Cady watches the ways that Regina and the other girls undermine each other. At first she sits in their circle as an observer, but she slowly starts to turn into one of them.

Matters get even messier when Regina stabs Cady in the back, which then prompts Janis - who has Regina-related bitterness of her own - to push their side into a calculated plan to ruin Regina’s life. The film tracks their progress and the deepening conflicts.

In many ways, Mean Girls comes across as Heathers for the 21st century, albeit a kinder, gentler version. Both films feature the extremes to which teens will go to snipe at each other, but Heathers seems substantially darker and nastier than Girls. The latter veers away from teen comedy conventions just enough to give it some bite, but it also ultimately embraces happier concepts and lacks the snap that might have made it more memorable.

Not that one should construe this to mean that Girls doesn’t offer an entertaining and witty experience. It neatly sums up the main dilemma of teen relationship politics: Cady hates Regina but still wants the latter to like her. The film shows some insights into the experience, and while I can’t say it feels totally genuine, it comes much closer to reality than the usual syrupy teen fantasies.

Girls occasionally comes across as a little obvious and heavy-handed as it explores its themes, especially when it lapses into glimpses of “Animal World”. Cady reflects on her years in Africa and contrasts how animals would resolve issues with the methods used by the residents of what she calls “Girl World”. When these scenes occur, we see the teens attack each other in animalistic ways. Not enough of these pop up to substantially harm the movie, but they seem silly and come as a distraction.

Part of the problem with Girls stems from its moderate softness. The movie feels restrained much of the time, as though the filmmakers really want to make something as vicious and bleak as Heathers but hold back for various reasons. The film becomes much more involving once Cady and Regina go into full-on Bitch Battle Mode. When the revenge elements start to fly, the flick gets gleefully nasty and starts to live up to its title.

Actually, the movie’s best parts come from its little moments. Amy Poehler’s turn as Regina’s youth-obsessed, enabling mother is a hoot, and I also like the goofy eco-centricity of Cady’s parents. The flick tosses out more than a few pithy and funny one-liners and often makes the small bits just absurd enough to work.

One surprise comes from the performance of Tim Meadows as the school’s principal. I never cared for him on Saturday Night Live, as he usually seemed clumsy and tentative on that show. In a more “straight” role, he excels, as he offers a self-assured and firm turn here. Without the pressure to be overtly wacky, Meadows mines his part for comedic moments and makes the character more interesting than one might anticipate.

As for Mean Girls itself, the movie doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. It provides a generally amusing and sly piece, but it fails to turn into something truly memorable. It just seems a bit too “safe” much of the time, as it wants to become more subversive but can’t go there. I like the movie but don’t see it as a great one.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Mean Girls appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a mediocre transfer.

Sharpness tended to be erratic. Much of the movie showed decent delineation but more than a few shots came across as tentative and soft. Still, overall delineation was fine. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but some mild edge haloes showed up at times. Print flaws remained absent.

Given the story, Girls displayed a pink-oriented palette that looked okay. Colors could have been peppier, though, as they tended to seem a bit heavy. Black levels appeared deep and firm, while low-light shots presented appropriately dense but not excessively dark images. This was a consistently average image.

Don’t expect a lot of sonic ambition from the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Mean Girls, but the audio was fine for this sort of flick. Unsurprisingly, the sound remained largely oriented toward the forward channels.

Dialogue dominated the movie, so most of the additional information tended to be general ambience. We got some light movement of different elements and acceptable stereo imaging for the music.

A few scenes broadened the spectrum reasonably well. The “Animal World” sequences were the most prominent in this regard, and the Spring Fling opened up matters mildly. The track displayed little to make it stand out, but this kind of movie didn’t require anything more than what it offered.

Audio quality also seemed good but unexceptional. Speech came across as natural and distinct. No edginess interfered with the lines, and the dialogue was consistently intelligible. The songs and score were reasonably bright and dynamic.

Effects functioned fine, with good clarity and range. Low-end was nicely tight and firm. Not a whole lot happened here to make Girls a standout mix, but it worked well for what it was.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD release? Audio showed a little more pep, while visuals came across with better definition and cleanness. Don’t expect major improvements, though, as the Blu-ray offered a lackluster presentation.

The Blu-ray replicates the DVD’s extras, and we open with an audio commentary from director Mark Waters, writer/actor Tina Fey, and producer Lorne Michaels. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. The track has potential but rarely lives up to it.

Waters dominates, and Fey talks quite a bit, but Michaels chimes in much less frequently. The commentary covers cut sequences and other unused segments, alterations and bits adapted from the book, locations, and a lot of various notes from the set. The latter category fills most of the track; it lacks a great deal of concise data and usually tells us more about trivia.

This makes it fairly breezy but it doesn’t let us know much that sticks. Honestly, I find it hard to remember anything substantial about the film’s creation. The lackluster quality of the material presented combined with a lot of happy talk and praise turns this into a moderately entertaining but less than informative commentary.

When we head to the “Featurettes” domain, we find three programs. Only the Strong Survive lasts 24 minutes, 52 seconds as it mixes the usual complement of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We get notes from Fey, Waters, Michaels, and actors Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert, Lindsay Lohan, Jonathan Bennett, Daniel Franzeze, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Tim Meadows, and Lizzy Caplan.

The participants reflect on the way teen girls treat each other, the roots of the project, the characters and the actors, and the SNL connection. Some of the footage from the shoot seems interesting, and the occasional useful note about the casting pops up, but for the most part, this is a pretty superficial and lackluster program that doesn’t tell us much.

Next we get a 10-minute, 33-second featurette called The Politics of Girl World. It includes remarks from author Rosalind Wiseman. She discusses her book and her creation of the Empower Program, an organization aimed at helping teens with their violence-related issues. She also chats about granting the movie rights to the book and other aspects of her work and study. It’s a pretty tight and informative look at the background to the movie.

Called Plastic Fashion, the last featurette runs 10 minutes, 25 seconds as it explores the clothes of the movie. We get notes from costume designer Mary Jane Fort. She explains her work with an emphasis on the choices she made for the various characters. It presents a lot of good information and packs some nice details into its running time.

For some bloopers, Word Vomit gives us five minutes, 44 seconds of those. Expect the usual goofs and giggles. The disc follows this with a trailer and three Interstitials that take a total of one minute, 39 seconds. These are TV ads that use unique footage created specifically for the promos, and that makes them more fun than usual.

After that we find nine Deleted Scenes that go for a total of seven minutes, one second. Obviously none of these offer long, detailed segments, but they’re surprisingly amusing. Most deleted scenes are cut for obvious reasons, but these include more than a smattering of funny bits and they definitely merit a look.

We can watch the segments with or without commentary from Waters and Fey. They offer some basic notes and give us a few remarks about why the segments didn’t make the cut. The commentary is decent but not terribly scintillating, and you won’t miss much if you skip it.

A darker than usual look at the teen comedy, Mean Girls works in a general way but rarely kicks into high gear. The movie offers a gently subversive take on the genre and that’s about it, for it seems clever and amusing but falls short of greatness. The Blu-ray offered passable picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements. I like the movie but the Blu-ray doesn’t impress.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MEAN GIRLS

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