Paramount // 2011 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // February 6th, 2011
The Plastics are back!
2006 called. It wants its sequel back.
Newcomer Jo (Meaghan Martin, Camp Rock) isn't particularly versed in the ways of high school, having spent most of her youth being hauled across the country by her mechanic father. Jo quickly runs afoul of her new school's most popular clique, The Plastics, a group of obscenely narcissistic girls led by Mandi (Maiara Walsh, Cory in the House). In a bid to avoid any further unpleasantness, Jo becomes friends with Abby (Jennifer Stone, Secondhand Lions), a reclusive artist whom The Plastics have always mistreated. Abby's wealthy parents enjoy seeing their daughter blossom under Jo's friendship, and thus decide to strike the youngster a deal. If Jo will remain close pals with Abby, they will pay the hopeful architect through college. Jo reluctantly accepts; she and Abby then begin forging a plan that will topple Mandi from power.
I have plenty of respect for 2004's Mean Girls, a wittily written, competently acted, and consistently entertaining example of cinema designed for teens. The film remains to this day one of Lindsay Lohan's few genuine artistic triumphs, and was a blessing to the careers of Tina Fey (who wrote the picture), Amanda Seyfried, and Rachel McAdams. It was a genuinely enjoyable slice of adolescent melodrama, and not too far removed from the very best examples of its genre.
Now in 2011 we're being offered a very belated sequel...
I say sequel, but in truth Mean Girls 2 feels more like a remake, the movie recycling numerous components of the original venture in order to satisfy its own storytelling itch. Nobody associated with the initial film (except for a desperate Tim Meadows) seems to have any direct involvement with Mean Girls 2, a product that will doubtless be gracing countless bottom 10 of the year lists come December. It's a reprehensibly lazy film, devoid of laughs or credible characterization. Directed by Melanie Mayron (1995's The Babysitters Club), Mean Girls 2 is an embarrassment to endure.
The writing and direction evidenced in Mean Girls 2 are woeful, leaving the cast without a hope in hell of delivering decent performances. Virtually every actor in the film is horrendous, but it seems unfair to lather too much blame atop their pretty young heads. The real villains are the three screenwriters (I repeat 3!!!) and director Mayron, each smothering the film in their own unique brand of unimaginative oafishness. Mayron shoots each frame of Mean Girls 2 like a furniture commercial, bringing no energy or momentum to proceedings. She clearly doesn't have a clue what to do with actors (hence my forgiving nature toward the hapless performers), and her comic timing is decidedly off. Even the tweens that Mean Girls 2 is so clearly aimed at are going to be left cold by Mayron's filmmaking ineptitude. According to her IMDb profile, Mayron has over 21 years of directorial experience, handling dozens of TV shows and the odd feature film. It's shocking that after so much time and experience she still has no grasp of the job's fundamentals. To call her work here subpar would be excessively generous.
The script is just as bad, if not worse. Mean Girls 2 just reuses the same structural template as its 2004 predecessor, only this time minus the funny jokes and interesting character developments. Everything from the movie's morals to The Plastics' personalities feels torn directly from the earlier production, resulting in a stale and resoundingly dull watch. The sense of humor on display is wretchedly unfunny, poo and vomit gags replacing the goofy slapstick and crafty exploration of high school politics that made Part 1 so memorable. There's no intelligence or even effort on show in Mean Girls 2, and given the rate with which the tepid plot slogs along, it's obvious that the art of editing is another skill this motley band of filmmakers don't possess.
Mean Girls 2 culminates with a girl on girl football grudge match. It's badly stitched together and audiences won't care, so ultimately it's an appropriate way to finish the film. Mean Girls 2 is easily one of the least creative sequels I've ever seen, and will very probably end up as my worst film of 2011. It's a shoddy and uncontrollably rancid endeavour; even with the benefit of lowered expectations, this is a truly deplorable viewing experience.
The DVD actually has a credible amount of bonus content, although little of it is of much interest. A featurette that revolves completely around Meadows has a few laughs, but other than that it's mostly teen friendly making of guff that attempts to paint the film as an example of halfway respectable cinema. It doesn't do a great job. Aside from the barrage of insubstantial featurettes there's also a gag reel (yawn), and a very brief anti-bullying message presented by a bored looking Meaghan Martin. Fans of the picture (if such a thing exists) might enjoy this extras package, but otherwise it's just going to prolong the torturous vibe promoted by the main attraction.
Are you kidding?
Mean Girls 2 is poisonous DTV fodder. I'd recommend you ban your kids from watching it.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Gag Reel