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How the 2024 Musical Movie Should Differ From the 2004 Original


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Summary

  • Mean Girls (2024) embraces meta-humor, calling out sex, feminism, bullying, and social standards in a more explicit and engaging way.
  • Social media will play a bigger role in the plot of Mean Girls (2024), highlighting its influence in spreading rumors and giving bullies power outside of school hours.
  • The new Mean Girls film will touch on more explicit topics like sex, diving deeper into them and offering a fresh perspective compared to the original movie.


It’s been two whole decades since the original Mean Girls debut, and it is considered a modern comedy classic and one of the best feminist comedies. Since then, the writer of the 2004 film, Tina Fey, also wrote the 2018 stage musical adaptation of her movie. The stage play not only included far more musical numbers than just the winter talent show but was modernized for this era where social media has become a crucial part of bullying, spreading rumors, and the like. The original movie was based on the 2002 book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman, detailing the various high school social clichés and how bullying can damage the lives of high schoolers, especially adolescent women.

These issues still exist today, and we need films like Mean Girls to help remind us of that. With the film adaptation of the musical coming out on Friday, Jan. 12, we can expect to see changes from when we were first introduced to the Plastics. And that’s not just because it’s technically not a remake of the 2004 original. While some changes will affect the overall runtime (like cutting a lot of songs from the play to make the film less stagey), others will have an impact on the overall story. And those changes are adamant to how teenagers are today.


Changing Up the Humor of Mean Girls

The humor of the 2004 Mean Girls was top-tier for its time and fit perfectly with the 2000s and best decade of comedy. It was current with that era of high school, even though it didn’t feel all that long ago. A lot has changed in our society in 20 years. That includes our humor. As cinema evolves over time, we find that certain aspects of our favorite genres match with what is trending.

For example, we have had more paranormal-related horror films in the past five years than any other subgenre of horror (like zombie or monster films). That’s because the ghost subgenre of horror is the most popular. For comedy, according to The Numbers, Barbie is currently the most popular and highest-grossing comedy film despite a recent release date. Its commentary on what it means to be a woman in society today spoke to audiences and resonated with fans of the film.

What made Barbie such a huge success in the comedy genre? Did you notice in the Mean Girls trailer that the comedy is more explicit than the 2004 original? And we’re not just talking about the PG-13 call-out joke at the beginning. The humor brings more attention to the conflicts presented in the film: sex, feminism, high school bullying with women, social clichés and standards, peer pressure, etc. It calls out these issues in a way that’s engaging.

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This form of humor is better known as meta-humor, in which the humor presented is purposely self-aware, like a character calling out on their own irony or breaking the fourth wall. A great example comes straight from the trailer when Gretchen (Bebe Wood) informs Cady (Angourie Rice) that coming to a Halloween party in a scary costume instead of a “slutty” costume is “slut-shaming” the women at the party. The irony here is that if everyone dresses like a “slut”, then no one is, but Cady contradicts that by coming in a scary costume.

Mean Girls Poster

Mean Girls (2024)

Release Date
January 12, 2024

Director
Samantha Jayne , Arturo Perez Jr.

One of the more significant changes is having social media more involved in the plot than the 2004 Mean Girls. Social media did not have a complete direct involvement in the original film simply because it wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. Everything is on the internet now, from political participation to TikTok cooking hacks, opinions versus facts, online trolling, and anything else you can imagine. Social media is also how we can connect with people outside our daily lives, but it also gives bullies easier access to spread rumors or harass somebody outside of school hours.

With the new Mean Girls film giving social media a more prominent role, we could see how easily it can be used to spread the rumors/lies from Regina’s Burn Book. It could also be used as a source of power, with the Plastics abusing social media to assert dominance over everybody at school outside of school hours. One thing for sure is that it will be used to spread rumors, as the trailer shows how quickly someone assumed that Cady pushed Regina (Renee Rapp) during the winter talent show. Additionally, the film will call out how quickly fashion trends start from someone else’s experience, like Regina’s spoiled make-up turning into a TikTok-like trend.

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Touching Up On Certain Topics in Mean Girls

Some specific topics in the original Mean Girls were briefly mentioned or hinted at but weren’t involved much in the primary story. One, for example, deals with sex. Sex was a secondary background plot point unimportant to the main storyline, but the 2024 trailer showed us that sex would be one of the main plot points in the film with the introduction of the health and human sexuality course. The make-out scenes are more explicit, talk of condoms and kinks like choking, and so on. Given that the trailer and the new cast of Mean Girls express the humor behind how explicit the topic might be, the film could dive deeper than that, offering a new perspective that was largely ignored in the original movie.

Mean Girls premieres in theaters on Friday, Jan. 12.

Stream Mean Girls on Paramount+

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