The New ‘Mean Girls’ Is So Pointless It’s Shocking


This week:

Fetch Ain’t Happening

Not to be all “cranky millennial with a grudge,” but I can’t get over that the marketing for the new Mean Girls movie musical sells it as, “This isn’t your mother’s Mean Girls.” Especially now that I’ve seen it and can say definitively: This is exactly your mother’s Mean Girls. (The marketing assumes that either your mother was a pre-teen mom or you are somehow the target audience for this new movie, despite being only six years old.)

Two things are true about the new Mean Girls: It is incredibly entertaining—a blast to watch, because Mean Girls is a blast to watch, and this is, again, exactly the same movie. But the extent to which it is exactly the same script, with exactly the same staging, with exactly the same aesthetic, and, in some cases, exactly the same actors is impossible to shake; I had fun, but couldn’t get over how pointless and unimaginative the entire project was.

The pipeline here is that Mean Girls was based on a book, which became a 2003 movie, which was then turned into a 2018 musical, which is now a 2023 movie based on a musical based on a movie based on a book. (After The Color Purple, this is the second such project in just a month. 30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney has some competition.)

If I were to rank these iterations on the book, I’d say the original movie is better than the new movie musical, which is better than the Broadway musical—which is a low bar, considering the calling card of a good musical is “having good songs,” which it does not.

The audience I saw the new film with seemed similarly flummoxed. They giggled at all the laugh lines that were delivered verbatim in the same cadence with the same framing as the original. They applauded for Renée Rapp after Regina’s song “World Burn,” and ate up everything that Jaquel Spivey, the new Damian, was serving. They also burst out laughing almost every single time a character started singing, suggesting that disguising the fact that this is a musical in trailers was either incredibly shrewd or entirely foolworthy. Movies are remade all the time. Musicals are revived often. The same is true of movie musicals. The difference is that there is usually some new interpretation that’s expected. Maybe there’s something to be said by revisiting the material in a modern time, or something to be excavated from a different perspective or, at the very least, visual style. That’s what irks me about the whole “this isn’t your mother’s Mean Girls” thing. There’s no attempt to make this resonate in any new, interesting way for another generation, aside from a TikTok montage and getting rid of the racist and problematic jokes from the original script.

I can’t reiterate enough the extent to which the scenes—sometimes down to the costumes—are exactly the same in this movie. Yes, there are songs. But the effect is as if someone remade The Devil Wears Prada with new, young stars, and then every four minutes, there was a ditty about belts looking the same or a production number about cube-of-cheese diets before returning to reciting the original script exactly as you remember it. Is that a good time? Sure, I guess. Again, the new Mean Girls is a fun watch. But is there a point to it?

The Most Important Parts of the Golden Globes

This year’s Golden Globes ceremony was one of the least entertaining award shows I’ve ever had to watch. I’m a gay man. Watching and loving award shows is 40 percent of my entire personality. That the telecast was so bad hurts. So instead of rehashing that disaster, let me point you toward the Golden Globes moments that happened outside the ceremony that made me very happy.

Here is Brie Larson crying while meeting Jennifer Lopez, telling J. Lo that Selena is the reason she became an actor:

Here is The Holdovers winner Paul Giamatti with his Golden Globe at In and Out after the show:

Here are my two husbands Jonathan Bailey and Andrew Scott posing together. I’m off-camera, also in a white suit, as we had plans to recreate the “You Don’t Own Me” finale from First Wives Club later that evening:

The Bear cast reacting to Jeremy Allen White’s Calvin Klein underwear ad when asked about it by literally every news outlet by begging, pleading for people to stop showing them photos of their coworker naked is perfect:

Why was Jared Leto alone at his table behind Oprah, and what was he plotting?:

Do yourself a favor and watch his video of the citizens of Osage Nation reacting to Lily Gladstone’s win:

And finally, here is the Girls reunion I’ve been waiting six years for:

An Incredible Story

I don’t often empathize with celebrities, but I imagine award season has to be exhausting. Especially at this time of year, they’re at ceremonies, galas, tributes, and other red carpet events every single day. But they’re also seeing all of their fellow celebrities, who are being forced to do the same thing. My question has always been: What are these people talking about when they see each other? That’s why I’m grateful for Marc Shaiman, the legendary composer and lyricist who, while posting photos from this week’s Governors Awards, casually dropped this amazing story about his encounter with Glenn Close in an Instagram caption:

screenshot of the composers conversation with Glenn Close.

I Would Have Lost It

The (incredibly fun) Broadway musical Gutenberg! features a bit near the end where an audience member joins the stage to play the part of a theater producer, and usually that person is famous. The show’s social media page has been posting photos and footage of some of its guest stars, but one from this week would have had me dead on the floor, had I been in the audience: Anne Hathaway and Anna Wintour appeared together, with dialogue acknowledging that The Devil Wears Prada was based on Anna.

What to watch this week:

Self Reliance: Jake Johnson is incapable of being anything but charming. (Now on Hulu)

Ted: We can’t believe it either, but the new Ted series made us laugh out loud. (Now on Peacock)

The Beekeeper: It’s so ridiculous that you have to stan. One line literally includes “to bee, or not to bee.” (Now in theaters)

What to skip this week:

Mean Girls: I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy. Instead, I had to watch the new Mean Girls. (Now in theaters)

Monsieur Spade: Clive Owen is so hot and cool, so why isn’t Clive Owen in this new show also so hot and cool? (Sun. on AMC)

Lift: The new Kevin Hart movie’s most egregious heist is of the two hours you’ll never get back. (Now on Netflix)