Regina Dies In This One

A “Mean Girls” (2024) review
@meangirls on instagram
@meangirls on instagram
Regina Actually Dies This Time

Regina George does, in fact, die in this one. For fifteen seconds, at least. 

The 2024 “Mean Girls” reboot modernizes the original 2004 high school drama film for a new generation. 

The hook of the trailer is Regina George’s entrance — her menacing, drawn out: My name is Regina George. This memorable snippet introduces the new interpretation as a “Mean Girls” musical, and permits new perceptions on the over two decade old classic. The soundtrack is taken from the 2018 Broadway show “Mean Girls” — also written by Tina Fey. 

One thing to note, I have not seen the Broadway “Mean Girls” in which this film is based. Therefore, as a reviewer I will be looking at the newest 2024 adaptation as the film itself.

Protagonist Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) is finally leaving Kenya to go to high school in Illinois — her first school experience ever. Her first day, she doesn’t make any friends, gets yelled at for trying to go the bathroom and ends up eating in said bathroom’s stall. 

Duo Janis ‘Imk’ike (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damien Hubbard (Jaquel Spivey) finally take pity on her and teaches her the ways of the school, including warning her away from the Plastics — the group consists of Regina George (Reneé Rapp), who also portrayed Regina in the “Mean Girls” Broadway show, Gretchen Wieners (Bebe Wood) and Karen Shetty (Avantika).

Inevitably, Cady gets tangled with the Plastics, and at Janis’s insistence, agrees to provide intel on The Plastic dynamic. As Cady’s plan progresses, she evolves further into the person she is trying to destroy, and grows distant with Janis and Damien. 

Tensions build in Cady’s friendships until Regina discovers Cady’s betrayal. Regina counters by making public the infamous and viciously worded Burn Book, causing a junior class rage.

All girls eventually are forced to apologize to someone they had wronged – sealing the theme of the movie. Janis reveals the Regina sabotage scheme which ultimately triggers a Cady and Regina standoff and ends with Regina getting hit by a bus. 

Written by Tina Fey and directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr, the new film is brought back to its origins. Our initial Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) makes a cameo in Cady’s big moment, pulling at all the feelings. Other original casting is kept in Mr. Duvall (Tim Meadows) and Ms. Norbury (Tiny Fey) — the original teachers from the 2004 film. There’s no “Mean Girls” without these cast members.

You also can’t have “Mean Girls” without the iconic lines. A decent amount of original lines were kept and delivered at the same moments. Although others, such as “I’m a mouse, duh” are reiterated differently — the mouse comment is pasted at the end of the song “Sexy” as an afterthought, but still brings the nostalgia. 

As for the music — a musical is going to have cheesy and predictable lyrics, but they felt overly simplified — the only complexity was found in Regina’s numbers. Most of the songs replaced the voice over monologues and conversations that made the 2004 film sentimental. Regardless of the disappointing lyrics, the actual beats themselves were catchy and fit well.

These are only some of the alterations made to the new “Mean Girls.” So let’s get specific:

One thing is for sure — Regina George got a sinister makeover. Her lights down and puppeteer entrance make it clear from the start that New Regina is a heartless viper.

In the original “Mean Girls,” Rachel McAdams’s Regina is a shallow, self absorbed, manipulative ring leader — yet she’s still made out to be a joke, poking fun at teenage girl cliques. This exaggeration makes for an easy laugh, but leaves an absence of depth to the effects of her emotional exploitation of others.

New Regina overtakes Old Regina when it comes to her scare strategy. She’s less vapid, making her classic, ridiculous “rules” about clothing seem crueler. New Regina is thorough, flexing her powerhold just enough to frighten the school into submission. She is calculating

The scene that best creates insight on New Regina’s favorite upset tactic is the Halloween party Cady gets invited to. The eerie, gravelly song, “Someone Gets Hurt” freezes everyone in an enclosed space as Regina explains her side of her relationship to Aaron, all the while pulling strings on people throughout the room. The lyrics to this song are the exact same as the original broadway song.

At length, Old Regina will always be beloved and iconic in the sense that she’s the original, but New Regina is a more believable representation of a villain. Besides, she’s got the best entrances.

In the original, you can see how the Plastics fit together as a puzzle. Regina is the commander, Gretchen provides the gossip and reiterates the rules and Karen is a buffer between Gretchen’s insecurities and Regina’s temper. 

In the new Plastic hierarchy, Gretchen and Karen still embody those roles. Karen especially establishes herself as the “dumb one,” as the original Karen does — mostly through her vacant expression. 

However, we get more depth into Gretchen’s character through “What’s Wrong With Me,” a song focusing on her insecurities under Regina — confirming why she’s so desperate to cling to her. These insecurities are exhibited in the original, but never explicitly stated.

The new Plastics dynamics are different from the easy toxicity of the original group. In the new “Mean Girls,” there’s a void of phone calls, meaning that most of Regina’s control is displayed through verbal attacks, which creates a more “beck and call” dynamic.

This time around, the Plastics are more submissive under Regina’s rule. Who wouldn’t be?

Protagonist Cady Heron develops a different character arc when comparing the two films. The original film showed Cady’s evolution through her clothes, makeup and the way she talked. Compared to the original Cady, this Cady stayed attached to her shy, ponytail-wearing self. 

The new film puts less emphasis on Cady’s immersion into the Plastics, and more time into how it affected her friendship with Janis and Damien. This outlook was a refreshing take on common clique misconceptions when it comes to female friendships.

This all results in a smaller character arc than the original Cady, but also makes it easier to get behind her cause in sabotaging Regina. 

Overall, I was less invested in New Cady, but it worked when paired with the new Regina.

Despite its status as a classic, the 2004 “Mean Girls” is dated in some aspects — this is where the 2024 “Mean Girls” picks up the slack. 

First of all, the cast was inclusive and diverse — featuring people of all identities. Offensive jokes toward marginalized groups were removed and replaced with less crass language. 

In the original, there are several shots taken at women, such Regina’s crazy mom and Ms. Norbury accidentally flashing the principal. 

In the new take, there are no inappropriate jokes aimed at Cady her first time at lunch, Regina’s mom is not portrayed as slightly gross and no flashing occurs.

Body type inclusion is also showcased in the new “Mean Girls,” especially with  the Plastics. The original girls are the standards of “pretty” during the 2000s — extremely skinny with thin faces. The modernization decides not to focus on body type and classifies the Plastics by their skill set and personalities — basically, they all know how to apply makeup.

The focal point of the film is the most important alteration made from the original. The 2004 “Mean Girls” is meant to make fun of teenage girl cliques and all their silly antics. The message is simple: don’t be mean.

The 2024 film takes things more seriously. Regina is nastier, the Plastics are dumber and Cady’s friendship with Janis ‘Imk’ike is more meaningful. And it’s mostly Janis’ doing.

New Janis has a “glow up” from the original Janice Ian. Original Janice Ian is the stereotypical alternative-girl, but the new Janis comes with a nastier Regina backstory, an artistic style and a new last name. She also represents the new theme of the movie: removing yourself from toxic relationships. 

Janis reveals these truths during the trust-fall apology exercise — where she reveals that she was conspiring with Cady. This monologue takes the form of her solo song: “I’d Rather Be Me”. And, as you may know, this is also the moment Regina gets hit by a bus and, depending on the version, dies. Except this is only background noise to Janis’s moment — effectively and completely changing the meaning of the movie. 

To me, Janis is the real hero of the new “Mean Girls” — resonating with present day sentiments of mental health stability and self care. 

Closing Remarks

I enjoyed the film immensely. I’m content with the changes made to bring the story up to date. However, the original will always have a special place in the chick flick genre. There’s something about any original — the novelty never wears off.

Both “Mean Girls” are so fetch.

Donate to The Viking
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Loudoun Valley High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting and publishing costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Viking
Our Goal