When it came out at the cinema I never had any intention of seeing the film, teen flicks were ten a penny those days, and 95% of them failed to come even close to being bearable viewing. Plus with my 30th approaching I really felt no need to see a bunch of good looking teenagers enjoying life to its fullest, not when I was feeling so bitter about my lost youth, oh no. But with little else on offer – June 2004 surely must go down as one of the worst ever months for cinema releases in the UK – and a good friend claiming “It’s the new Clueless, honest it is,” I was eventually persuaded.
I’ve no real regrets too, over the years its reputation has improved and many love it, but for me it’s just a quite fun teen movie, though neither as dark as Heathers or as cute as Clueless. Indeed the film it’s most similar too is Alexander Payne’s little seen Election, dealing with the various social distinctions found in High Schools and showing just how evil the teens of today can be, but this is more pleasant, it has more fun with its central concept, and though not as sharp as Payne’s film it will probably make you laugh a bit more.
In what’s all but certainly the best thing Lindsay Lohan will ever do, she plays Cady, back in the US after twelve years in Africa being home schooled by her parents. She’s your typical fish out of water, unaware of High School ways, and mocked by most until she’s adopted by two oddball geek types who educate her in the way the world works when you’re sixteen. Soon she’s persuaded to join the ‘Plastics’ clique to help get revenge upon Queen bitch Regina (McAdams), but starts to like hanging out with them far too much.
Alas, none of the performances are particularly that special, at least when it comes to the main roles. Tim Meadows as the high school principal shines, as do Tina Fey and Rachel McAdams, but they’re strictly supporting roles, and don’t really make up for an only slightly above average performance from Lohan. She’s fine when doing cute and innocent but doesn’t quite cut the mustard, or any other kind of condiment, upon transforming in to a mean girl herself. It doesn’t really affect the movie too much though, even despite the fact that it also suffers from a distinctly workman-like direction, because fortunately the script is mostly intelligent material and packed with a number of decent one liners.
Based on the non-fiction book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” while it may not be the sharpest of satires, it’s still fairly smart, and it benefits from feeling real, believable, unlike most teen films of time, and it’s also mostly unpredictable too, pleasingly never patronising its intended audience. It’s also unusual in that the majority of the supporting characters are fleshed out rather well and much more believable than your usual types, plus they get smart funny lines as well.
Scripted by Tina Fey who of course has gone on to much bigger and better things, it speeds along at a decent enough pace, and though it’s a little flabby in its mid-section, the ending comes along rather just in time, and it’s surprising enough to make you forget the odd duller moment. This’ll never be anyone over the age of 20’s favourite film, but it’s largely clean fun mixed in with a sprinkle of twisted humour, and more than worthy of 97 minutes of your time.