Mean Girls 2024 remake: 10 top takeaways from the new film

Get in loser, we're going to see the Mean Girls musical.
'Mean Girls' 2024 remake 10 top takeaways from the new film

Warning: May contain low-key spoilers for the film.

20 years on, and Mean Girls is back. With a couple of twists.

No, the new musical movie is not a sequel – it doesn’t even feel like a remake, more like a revisit to a beloved tale.

It’s the next step in the Mean Girls evolution. The story was inspired by 2002 book Queen Bees and Wannabes, made into a film by Tina Fey in 2004, a musical on New York’s Broadway in 2018 and now a musical on screen.

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And what’s GLAMOUR’s verdict? It’s excellent fun. It’s clever, meta and seriously self aware. The script has been upgraded for 2024, with a lot of nostalgia mixed in with iconic scenes kept from the original.

Shout out to Busy Phillips, who smashes it as Regina’s “cool mom” and Spider-Man actor Angourie Rice who fills tricky shoes in the role that made a superstar out of Lindsay Lohan, protagonist Cady Heron.

Here are our top 10 takeaways from the new Mean Girls musical movie.

Busy Philipps plays Mrs. George in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.JOJO WHILDEN

1. The new faces playing Damian and Janis steal the show

Absolute stars Jaquel Spivey and Auli'i Cravalho play Cady’s best friends Damian and Janis respectively, and they are an utter delight. Their performances bookend the movie, narrating the start and finish to the story.

Jaquel is both hilarious and charming in his onscreen debut, and we predict everyone is going to want to be best friends with Auli’i’s Janis. Her amazing performance of the musical track I'd Rather Be Me rejects ideas of how women should behave and is an anthem of self acceptance. Can we get an amen?

Janis is also quick to point out to Cady how bad it is to play dumb for a guy. We all need that feminist energy in our lives.

Jaquel Spivey plays Damian, Angourie Rice plays Cady and Auli'i Cravalho plays Janis in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.JOJO WHILDEN

2. Sexuality is viewed in a more fluid, holistic, shame-free way than the original

Instead of being used as a punchline (think Janis Ian, who is hetero in the 2004 rendition, repeatedly being called a “dyke”), sexuality in the 2024 Mean Girls world is handled in a much smarter, inclusive way.

From the small details, like the addition of a male gay couple making out at the table of “Sexually Active Band Geeks” in the cafeteria to the bigger ones like the decision to give Janis a female prom date – with no drama and fanfare around it – we’re here for an improved representation of the sexuality spectrum on screen.

3. It takes back some of the more problematic slurs and storylines of the Noughties

Twenty years have passed since the original, and times have changed. So certain parts that haven’t aged so well didn’t make the cut for the 2024 version of Mean Girls.

Lines such as “if you’re from Africa, why are you white”, “you can go shave your back now” (body hair shaming is not cool) and phrases such as “half a virgin” (virginity is a social construct, duh) are noticeably nixed, as is the teacher-student relationship storyline.

Slightly different approaches to sex education and slut shaming are knowingly referenced, with a teacher attempting to discuss choking with his students. Karen (Avantika)’s performance of Sexy and an earnest one liner from Gretchen (Bebe Wood) both summarise the enduring pressure on teenage girls to be sexy – especially at Halloween parties – while simultaneously facing the patriarchal guarantee of slut shaming.

… 4. But keeps the storyline about Regina’s weight gain

This felt kind of strange, and perhaps was an oversight, considering all of the other ways that the Mean Girls story had been slightly tweaked to reflect a more diverse look at teenage life.

We see Cady and her friends give Regina the infamous Kalteen bars that cause Regina to gain weight, still viewing this as a revenge tactic and resulting in shaming. Admittedly, this is a key element of the original story and may have proved difficult to work around or rework altogether, but it felt like a wasted opportunity to reject the pressure of female body standards.

Perhaps what the survival of this storyline proves, more than anything, is the pervasiveness of these pressures to this day.

Tina Fey plays Ms. Norbury in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.JOJO WHILDEN

5. Diversity still feels like a priority, though

From its casting of actors from a range of different backgrounds and the decision to not bring back cafeteria tables divided by race (goodbye Cool Asians table), Mean Girls does feel committed to diversity.

Even the decision to portray Cady’s mum (played by Jenna Fischer) as a single parent this time around feels like an acknowledgement of different family structures without attaching drama or trauma to them.

6. Renée Rapp totally makes Regina George her own

Known for her unapologetic, no bull sh*t vibes (see her GLAMOUR interview rejecting male validation), Renée Rapp is the ultimate Gen Z Regina George. Having played the character on Broadway, she brings the bitchiness to the screen with a ton of sex appeal and vulnerability.

We’d go as far to say that her rendition of Regina is more complex than Rachel McAdams’, particularly her performance of musical track Someone Gets Hurt at the Halloween party. The song explores the darker side of popularity and social expectations, giving Regina the nuance we never knew we needed.

7. TikTok is a key character in the film

Of course, if you’re headed to high school as a member of Gen Z, the monster that is social media is unescapable. So Mean Girls steers straight into the trend, showcasing the good and the bad.

Popular TikTokkers and stars such as Megan Thee Stallion appear on various TikTok videos onscreen, and those with a keen eye for Easter Eggs from the original film may spot a particularly iconic Regina George 1.0 outfit during one of the videos. References are very cleverly disguised, giving us super fans extra satisfaction and glee when we recognise them.

The toxic side of social media is also shown, though. We see iconic scenes such as The Plastics’ performance at the talent show and Regina’s *ahem* run in with a bus unfold and go viral on TikTok and Snapchat. These events are leveraged as part of the popularity war between Cady and Regina, showcasing the very real and fickle nature of both high school politics and social media – one minute you're on top and next minute you’re not.

There’s no privacy, everything is public, a painful reality for so many teenagers IRL.

8. You can spot quite a few members of the Mean Girls alumni throughout

Of course, Mean Girls writer Tina Fey reprises her role as Ms Norbury alongside Tim Meadows as Principal Duvall, along with a brief appearance from Emily In Paris star (and Mean Girls Broadway Musical star) Ashley Park as a French teacher.

Ashley Park plays Madame Park in Mean Girls from Paramount Pictures. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount © 2023 Paramount Pictures.JOJO WHILDEN

Lindsay Lohan’s much-awaited cameo comes right towards the end, and she’s perfect. We’ll say no more.

9. It perfectly encapsulates the nostalgia of Mean Girls’ most iconic scenes and lines

Why will so many of us be running to the cinema as soon as the film is out? Nostalgia for the original, of course.

The good news is that Mean Girls retains the magic of the 2004 story really well, revisiting locations such as the Halloween party, North Shore talent show, Mathlete tournament, prom and the school cafeteria scenes.

Lines such as “so fetch”, “you go, Glen Coco” and “none for Gretchen Wieners, bye” reappear, but our favourite update has to be the reworked Kevin G rap performance where he writes an ode to “prioritising your pleasure”.

10. The songs manage to sum up the struggle of being a teenager, while still being super empowering

While we most certainly missed the iconic use of Missy Elliott’s Pass That Dutch, the Broadway musical songs that weave through the movie brings a fun, light touch to proceedings while interrogating some important issues.

Stand outs include Bebe Wood’s performance of Gretchen’s track What’s Wrong With Me? perfectly encapsulates the neuroses and pain of being a teenager and toxic friendships, nailing the impact both have on your self esteem.

Also look out for Apex Predator, a tongue-in-cheek take on the ferocity of Popular Girl Regina, and Cady's performance of Stupid In Love, an all-too-relatable anthem about teen infatuation.

The Mean Girls musical is coming to London's West End this year, so we’ll soon be singing along to all of the songs throughout 2024.

Mean Girls is out in UK cinemas from 17 January.