I loved the stage musical, but hated the movie. Here's why.
Last Edit: DanielVincent 02:26 pm EST 02/09/24
Posted by: DanielVincent 02:21 pm EST 02/09/24
In reply to: Mean girls movie—I finally saw it. - dramedy 11:08 am EST 02/09/24

I realize I was in the minority in considering the stage musical a genuinely well written, expertly choreographed and designed, and (with the notable exception of Erika Henningsen) fantastically cast joy from start-to-finish. I've defended it so fervently, it has really hurt my snob cred! 🤣

All that being said, I was EXTREMELY disappointed in the movie. One of the main reasons I loved the stage musical is how clearly Jeff Richmond's score differentiated the voices of each of the main characters. Regina's music did not sound like Janis's did not sound like Gretchen's did not sound like Karen's and so on. In the film, presumably because the powers-that-be assumed it would more pleasing to a teenage moviegoing audience, every song is given the same pseudo-pop arrangement and orchestration. EVERYONE'S music sounds the same: gone is the delicious Bond villain vibe of Regina's big solos; the bubblegum pop princess feel of "Sexy" has disappeared and, confusingly, feels no different than "Apex Predator." Having not listened to the soundtrack before I saw the movie, I remember clocking the elimination of Gretchen and Karen's verses during "Meet the Plastics" as a warning sign that the film team did not care about differentiating the Plastics musically and, boy!, I was right. I could go on and on...

Rapp has been deserving of the praise and hype she's received for her "Real Housewives of North Shore High" Regina and strong vocals...and yet I can't help but miss Taylor Louderman's understated icy assurance, which felt completely different from Rachel McAdams's creation in a way that I don't think Rapp's really does. Jaquel Spivey, on the other hand, hasn't gotten NEARLY enough attention for his hilarious Damian. I wonder if he would have had he gotten all the opportunities to showcase his talents that the wonderful Gray Hanson got. Does Auliʻi Cravalho sing well? Absolutely. But I longed for Barrett Wilbert Weed's go for broke vocals, and don't think Cravalho's personality pops the way Weed's or Lizzie Kaplan's did. Bebe Wood and Avantika aren't bad, but they also don't make strong impressions in what should be scene stealing roles. And Angourie Rice somehow managed to be even more of a nonentity than Henningsen. Both performances suggest that Lindsay Lohan's ability to anchor the film and not be outshone by the flashier, more overtly comic roles was more special than I initially thought.

I actually liked a lot of the direction in terms of camera work and world building--Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. struck me as being potentially great directors of a movie musical--so I wondered how many of the musical and casting decisions were taken out of their hands.

But...okay...I want to end on some positives ...so...um...the moment when Tina Fey pretended to start singing and immediately said "nope!" was hilarious, and...um...it was nice to see Jenna Fischer again..............................
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Previous: Mean girls movie—I finally saw it. - dramedy 11:08 am EST 02/09/24
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