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DVD Review: MEAN GIRLS (BLU-RAY)



Studio: Paramount
Year: 2004
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Tina Fey, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, Jonathan Bennett, Lacey Chabert, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Neil Flynn
Director: Mark Waters
Release Date: April 14, 2009
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, language and some teen partying
Run Time: 01h:36m:44s
Genre(s): comedy

"I'm sorry that people are so jealous of me. But I can't help it that I'm so popular." - Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert)

MEAN GIRLS (BLU-RAY)

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This Blu-Ray release doesn't offer any new extras, but the film remains a smart and comical peek at the high school social scene.

And the vivid transfer makes this easily worth a double-dip...


Movie Grade: B+

DVD Grade: B

Based on Rosalind Wiseman's spot-on book on the inner-workings of the female high school social strata Queen Bees and Wannabes, with a very funny screenplay from Tina Fey, this 2004 teenage comedy stands well above its typically one-dimensional ilk.

Maybe because there's just so much truth in the shenanigans, because when my now 18-year-old daughter Sam saw Mean Girls during the summer between her 8th grade and freshman year, she told me that it was so accurate that she considered it more of a documentary. Apparently the evil, judgmental "Girl World" hierarchy had filtered down in full force to junior high levels, and she had already lived it by the time she saw this.

Home-schooled teen Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan)ˇfresh from living in the African bush with her zoologist parentsˇis enrolled in a brand new jungle: a suburban high school. And what she discovers quickly is that you're probably safer going face-to-face with a hungry lion than attempting to exist alongside the superficial beauties known as The Plastics.

Led by queen b**ch Regina George (Rachel McAdams), The Plastics represent the ruling high school elite, and poor Cady finds herself drawn into their world, only to quickly discover the cat-clawed truth behind that old "be careful what you wish for" adage. And things become more intense when Cady develops a crush on Regina's ex-boyfriend (Jonathan Bennett)...

With Wiseman's book as the basis, the beauty of Fey's screenplay is that it is more than just a dumb teen comedy. The humorˇeven amidst some of the required genre elementsˇhas a cleverly venomous intelligence, and as her only screenplay to date Fey really nailed it. The dialogue is often caustic and yet true-to-life, a delicate mixture that Fey seems to understand.

Those all-important (at the time) nuances of high school life are painted by Fey with a swatch of familiarity and the absurd, when all the fear of social suicide and acceptance often meant more than just being happy. How do we pick our friends? Who should we like? What's wrong with joining The Mathletes? Even some of the small moments, such as Cady's shopping excursion with The Plastics, contains a simple but brilliant visual that compares animals at an African watering hole to the hordes of teens in the mall.

It's tough to overlook the bizarre real-life/career downward spiral Lohan has undergone in the years since Mean Girls was released, when it seemed she was poised to become some kind of "it" girl for her generation. That path certainly got diverted in a bad way, but in 2004 Lohan seemed to be on the cusp of marketable greatness. As the slightly naive and brainy Cady, Lohan conveys her de-evolution and eventual redemption with a magnetic charm (even when her character isn't necessarily so appealing) that is freckled with an undercurrent of blossoming teenage sexualityˇwitness the unabashed stripper-like costumes and undulations of Cady and The Plastics during their Jingle Bell Rock performance at the Winter Talent Show.

My daughter considered this a documentary, and I can't imagine a greater nod of approval to Wiseman and Fey than that.

IMAGE
The 1.85:1 AVC-encoded 1080p transfer just might be the tipping point if you're on the fence about a double-dip, because the abundance of excessively bright colors (this is one PINK movie) really do pop, so much more so than the SD release. There's a definite bump in the level of detail, and certainly elements such as clothing textures carry dramatically improved clarity, and for a catalog title the yays (bright colors) for this BD transfer outweigh the nays (some modest speckling in a scene or two).

AUDIO
The primary track has been issued in a lossless 5.1 Dolby Digital TrueHD mix that represents a slightly marginal improvement over the previously available 5.1 mix found on the 2004 release. Not there's anything especially wrong here. Hardly. Voices and music are all rendered cleanly, and though it takes a while the surrounds do eventually become fairly active, balanced by some modest LFE presence. The front channels carry the load here, and it's just that it's not a terribly showy audio mix, save for a couple of scenes in particular. French and Spanish 5.1 dubs are also included.

EXTRAS
Nothing really new to offer, as all of the supplemental material has been ported over from the 2004 release, with the only minor improvement being that the film's theatrical trailer has been issued here in HD. Otherwise, all the rest of the content, such as the three very funny interstitials (Frenemies, New Girl, PSA) are in SD.

Here's what dOc's David Krauss wrote in his fine review of the extras found on the 2004 SD release (because it's the same stuff on this BD disc):

Paramount packs on the extras, beginning with a scene specific commentary by director Mark Waters, writer and actress Tina Fey, and producer Lorne Michaels. This is a fun listenˇlight on substance, but lively, entertaining, and full of personality. Waters describes Lohan as "very winning" and marvels at how well Toronto doubled for Evanston, Illinois. The director also lampoons his "bathroom motif," and likens scenes in the bathroom in Mean Girls to those in the boardroom in TV's The Apprentice. Fey makes several hilarious self-deprecating remarks, and all three enjoy dissing film critic Richard Roeper.

Three featurettes follow, although the first is long enough to be called a documentary. Only the Strong Survive runs 25 minutes (which is about 10 minutes too long) and offers a comprehensive overview of casting, characters, and the unique high school culture that fuels the film. Fey observes that girls could rule the world if they didn't inherently hate each other, and that The Plastics represent "celebrity culture shrunk down to high school size." She and Walters again admire Lohan's strength and likeability, and discuss the film's ultimate hopeful message. Interviews with all the principal actors, on-set footage, and a segment on the film's big-time Saturday Night Live connection also distinguish this informative behind-the-scenes look.

The Politics of Girl World is little more than an extended interview with Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, the book upon which Mean Girls is based. More like a mini-seminar than a featurette, this 10-minute monologueˇwhich could easily have been trimmed by halfˇallows Wiseman to address such questions as "Why do girls leave themselves vulnerable to scary situations?", and hype her Empower Program, which teaches both girls and boys the root causes of violence. Wiseman hopes Mean Girls will encourage girls to talk about important personal issues and make their own decisions, but her repetitive palaver provokes yawns instead of epiphanies.

Plastic Fashion, another drawn-out featurette, focuses on costume designer Mary Jane Fort, who notes that color and style have meaning (oooooohhh!). Unfortunately, the meaning of the hideous blouse Fort wears during her interview remains dubious at best. Costume sketches and tests thankfully divert our attention from Fort's fashion disaster during at least a portion of this 10-minute puff piece.

Word Vomit, a five-and-a-half-minute blooper montage, offers a few genuine laughs, while So Fetch presents nine deleted scenes (a few of which are noteworthy) that can be viewed with or without commentary by Walters and Fey.

Posted by: Rich Rosell - April 26, 2009, 4:32 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: comedy, high school, lindsay lohan, tina fey, amy poehler




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