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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Mean Girls

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Mean Girls”
Rated PG-13
2004

Remember back to 2004, when journalists used words like “promise” and “comedienne” about Lindsay Lohan — a 17-year-old with discernible color, curves, cheeks and capabilities to carry a concept comedy.

Today, it’s “probation,” “cocaine” and court orders to carry an alcohol-monitoring anklet as well as, unexpectedly, head to jail. Sadly, Lohan is more likely to die before 30 than land another comic lead as suitable to her talent (kindly assuming it hasn’t been squandered) as her effervescent turn in “Mean Girls.”

Tina Fey’s screenplay was an observant equal-opportunity offender about how high school remains a jungle of cliques, hormones and haughtiness.

Lohan is Cady, an Africa-raised teenager whose stateside return to high school pits her against a popular group called the Plastics (Rachel McAdams’ schemer, Lacey Chabert’s flunky and Amanda Seyfried’s ditz).

Its recognizable truths are funny — inept sex-ed instruction, nerd aggression in scholastic-bowl competition, Tim Meadows as a powerless principal. But Fey and director Mark Waters aren’t reductive, or lazy, enough to leave it at laughter.

Words like “fugly,” “bitch” and “slut” wound here, while a culture of promiscuity that’s permissible to a point and the idea that “girl-world” fighting must be “sneaky” become double standards of decorum that, honestly, aren’t confined to high school. (“30 Rock” flourishes, but multiplexes miss Fey’s savvy, sassy screenwriting.)

Fey knows even teenagers’ most horrible behavior is simply a cry for approval. Sometimes that persists into adulthood. If Lohan’s lucky, there’s time to make “Mean Girls” not a fluke but a form to recapture.

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5 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Mean Girls”

  1. […] charm doesn’t lend itself well to the hardened character she portrays. Her roles in “Mean Girls” and “Dear John” were just too much for me to overcome, as I found her performance to be […]

  2. Ronald R. says:

    I honestly enjoy this film, and will sit down and watch it occasionally when it’s on cable. It’s fun and genuinely funny, and makes me miss the days when Lohan had promise…not to mention red hair.

  3. […] concept of the film is so quirky, it’s a shame that director Mark Waters (“The House of Yes,” “Mean Girls”) and the screenwriters (Sean Anders, John Morris and Jared Stern) didn’t have more fun with it. […]

  4. Bobby McFerrin says:

    Had you asked me, I never would have thought you’d put this movie on the list. That said, I’ve seen this movie more than any other you’ll have on this list. It was on just about every time I gave plasma while saving for a trip to Italy (Don’t Worry, Be Happy royalties only get you so far). I must have seen this movie 30 times, no joke.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Rogers. Nick Rogers said: Ex-boyfriends are, like, off-limits to friends. That's, like, a rule of feminism. http://bit.ly/b1W4S6 #bestfilmsofthedecade […]