The new Mean Girls movie is not what you were expecting.

Mean Girls is the movie that millennials, in particular, never wanted to be remade.

And yet here we are.

Twenty years after the original movie premiered, gifting us with quotes that still remain deeply embedded in our language and performances it was hard to imagine being repeated, the original film's creator and writer Tina Fey is back with a fresh addition to what has morphed into the Mean Girls universe.

The 2024 movie offering is based on the Broadway musical of the same name, which was written by Fey, with music composed by her husband, Jeff Richmond; which was based on her 2003 movie; which was inspired by the 2002 book Queen Bees and Wannabes.

With all these different Mean Girls offerings already out there in the wild, the question around the 2024 iteration was very much, 'Did this even need to be made?'

And now that I've finally seen it, my answer is a resounding yes.

With a few caveats.

The new Mean Girls movie, just like the Broadway show it is based on, follows the original movie's plot pretty much beat for beat.

Once again we are told the story of Cady Heron (played by Australian actress Angourie Rice), a girl who had been homeschooled in Kenya before being plunked down in an American high school with no knowledge of teenage customs or school hierarchy.

Sensing a fellow lost soul, Cady is soon befriended by school outcasts Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey), who talk her through the various school cliques and explain the rules that keep everybody in their place.


(When looking at the two films, it feels important not to fall into the trap of comparing them scene by scene, yet I feel obliged to let fellow Mean Girls fans know that the remake of the iconic clique introduction scene doesn't hold a candle to the original.)

After being befriended and then wronged by the school's vicious Queen Bee Regina George (played by Reneé Rapp, who also played the role on Broadway), Cady, Janis and Damian set out to take down Regina and her fellow Plastics, Gretchen (Bebe Wood) and Karen (Avantika), until Cady starts to feel more like the villain.

Take a look at the trailer for Mean Girls. Post continues below.

Video via Paramount.

Basing the new film on the Broadway show, rather than the 2004 iteration, is the film's saving grace. Especially when it comes to an audience who have grown up very protective of the original and who were primed to not look kindly upon a straight remake.


Infusing original musical numbers into the film heightens the storytelling within this cutthroat high school world, allowing some of the original film's most iconic dialogue to be infused with new life, and adds an extra layer of impressive visual storytelling to course through the movie. All thanks to the fact that many of the musical and dance numbers are beautifully put together.

This new iteration of Mean Girls, which was directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. in their feature film directorial debut, with a screenplay by Tina Fey (who also served as a producer), cleverly leans heavily into the nostalgia of the original film, with enough new jokes sprinkled in to elicit some laughs.

Memorable costumes from the original are peppered throughout the new movie and will immediately catch the eye of longtime fans; Tim Meadows reprises his role as Principal Duvall (and this time there's a relationship twist to his story that fans have always asked for); and it's no secret by now that Lindsay Lohan, who originated the role of Cady, makes a cameo appearance – and one that's not just a throwaway moment. Instead, it's clear that Fey put a lot of thought into where to place the actress in a way that honours one of her most memorable roles.

If you're a fan of the Broadway show, then you'll lean forward in your seat when actress Ashley Park, who originated the role of Gretchen Weiners on stage, also appears in a brief cameo.

Mean Girls was always going to live and die on its casting and in this case it mostly works in the film's favour.


Following in the footsteps of Lizzie Caplan was always going to be a tough gig for Moana star Auli’i Cravalho, after the actress turned Janis into such a steal-stealing role, yet Cravalho manages to make the part her own. Her powerhouse voice ensures her scenes are some of the most interesting to watch.

In the same vein, Jaquel Spivey had the same fight on his hands with the character of Damian, which has been so closely tied to the original actor, Daniel Franzese, for the last 20 years – yet he also managed to remake the role into his own. In fact, Spivey's Damian delivers the most laughs throughout the film as he's given the most new dialogue to play with.

Jaquel Spivey as Damian, Angourie Rice as Cady and Auli’i Cravalho as Janis in Mean Girls. Image: Paramount Pictures. 


Of course, there were always going to be some casualties when it came to a new lineup and in this case, the heads on the chopping block were Bebe Wood as Gretchen and Avantika as Karen. In the hands of original actresses, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried, these roles took on lives of their own, delivering some of the most memorable scenes of the film all while never feeling forced or dumbed-down. Something that is not the case with the new film.

The most complex character to bring to life in the 2024 version was always going to be Regina George, who has now taken on such a life of her own in the pop culture realm that she's become a caricature of the ultimate high school mean girl. The role was originally brought to life in such a specific way by Rachel McAdams, in a part that launched her into stardom, that any actress attempting to directly replicate her work would end up looking like a pale imitation.

Which explains why Reneé Rapp takes her Regina in a different direction, one that differs to the more calculated ice queen shown by McAdams. In this case, Rapp is a more brash and brutal Regina, almost animalistic from the get-go and in an interesting twist, her bullying ways are used less for comedic beats this time around. Very much a sign of how younger audiences' tastes have changed.


The new Mean Girls movie is not what you were expecting on many levels.

If you are a diehard fan of the original and cursed the idea of it being remade (like those aforementioned protective millennials, of which I am one), you'll be pleased to know this doesn't feel like a full remake of the original, but more of a companion piece to be enjoyed alongside it.

If you expected the film to be anchored more in Regina's story, since that's what the film's marketing heavily played up, then know it's still very much centred on Cady, and her character never strays too far from the original path.

But most of all, if you expected it to be too 'musical' for your taste, then I encourage you to still go and see it in theatres.

Because in 20 years, one thing that has never changed within every different iteration of Mean Girls is that Tina Fey knows how to tell a good story – and that's always worth buying a ticket for.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Mean Girls is in cinemas now, it is rated PG.

Feature Image: Paramount.

Love watching movies at the cinema or at home? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!